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Zookeeper furious as dogs continue to be abandoned at Tochigi Pref. facility

Puppies found abandoned in a cardboard box in the Tochigi Prefecture city of Utsunomiya, on April 27, 2019, are seen in this photo provided by Utsunomiya Zoo.

UTSUNOMIYA -- Nine abandoned puppies were recently found at Utsunomiya Zoo in this city north of Tokyo, the third time since November last year that dogs had been discarded at the facility, a zookeeper announced in an official blog.

According to a post titled "Yurusanai (unforgivable)," retriever dogs assumed to be about 3-4 months old were found around 8 p.m. on April 27, deserted in cardboard boxes near the entrance used by employees.

Zookeepers presume that the same person left dogs at the facility in two other cases that occurred last November, as the breed of the abandoned animals are alike, and they display similar behavior. Some 20 dogs in total have been abandoned at the zoo in these incidents.

"How can anyone do such a thing? Sad? Upset? I'm overwhelmed with emotions which I cannot describe or put into words anymore," the post read. It is also explained that the zookeeper decided to post this content upon discussion with other staffers in a bid to raise alarm.

The blog post evoked responses from many people with criticism including such comments as, "Such an irresponsible thing to do," "That's so selfish," and, "It's common sense to responsibly provide lifetime care for animals."

All 20 abandoned dogs are healthy and 19 have already been adopted, while the other is currently being raised at the zoo to become a show dog. The facility has reported the case to Tochigi Prefectural Police's Utsunomiya Chuo Police Station, which is investigating the case on suspicion of violation of the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals and other laws.

Utsunomiya Zoo says various animals, such as cats and turtles, have also been abandoned at the facility, including kittens found in cardboard boxes in 2016.

"Many people think (abandoned animals) will be taken care of at a zoo, but that's not true. If a discarded animal has a disease like swine fever or bird flu, we would have to cull all other animals at the facility," explained 55-year-old zoo director Kenji Arai. He added, "We urge owners to be responsible and take care of their animals."

(Japanese original by Soon Lee, Utsunomiya Bureau)

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