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Japan eyes ordinance to limit number of dogs, cats owned by pet dealers, breeders

A group of dogs is seen kept in a small space in a breeding facility in this photo provided by the Japan Animal Welfare Society.

TOKYO -- The Ministry of the Environment plans to limit the number of dogs and cats that breeders and pet shop operators can own at once as part of efforts to improve living environments for the animals.

A ministerial ordinance being drafted by the ministry would allow one breeder to keep no more than 15 dogs and 25 cats for breeding per worker, while dealers would be able to keep 20 dogs and 30 cats per employee at most. The ordinance would additionally restrict the breeding age of the animals to 6 and under as a general rule.

In some cases, businesses have found raising animals in poor environments. The new ordinance would make it possible to revoke breeding certification for businesses found to repeatedly violate regulations during on-site inspections under Japan's animal welfare act.

The Environment Ministry is expected to present the draft at a July 10 expert panel meeting on appropriate management of pets and other matters.

The revised Act on Welfare and Management of Animals, which came into effect in June with stronger punishments for animal abusers and other new rules, states that the Environment Ministry is to establish a concrete standard for raising and managing animals under a ministerial order. The ministry plans to revise its ministerial ordinance by the end of 2020 at the earliest. Up until this point, Japan has not restricted the number of animals a business can own.

Overseas and other case studies were taken into consideration when determining the numerical limits to ensure an environment to maintain animals' bare minimum health and safety.

The standards for breeders that need more detailed management will be stricter than for animal dealers such as pet shops. The ministry plans to set concrete rules on the sizes and other details of cages and beds used per animal.

There have been cases reported in Japan in which dogs and cats have been horded or bred in great numbers in a small space due to a pet boom in recent years, and bodies including animal welfare groups are calling for improved environments.

(Japanese original by Toshiyuki Suzuki, Science & Environment News Department)

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