Japan's pets are the most spoilt in the world. They wear clothes, eat in restaurants, bathe in spas. But what happens to the two percent that find themselves homeless? Re-homing is unheard of in Japan, where only the latest creation (often inbred) will do. The answer, revealed in this video, is to gas them, en masse.

According to Japanese director Motoharu Iida, who's visited several "animal facilities" in researching his documentary Dogs, Cats and Humans, between 310,000 and 350,000 abandoned pets "disappear" in these chambers every year - that's almost 1,000 per day (other reports coming out of Japan have quoted up to 1,200 per day).

The use of gas chambers for unwanted pets is not limited to Japan. Although in Europe gassing is considered inhumane and the standard method of dog destruction is lethal injection, in the United States for example, carbon monoxide poisoning is still one of the methods practiced.  

According to a 2008 report by the intergovernmental Terrestrial Animal Health Standards Commission, the use of gas is not recommended but "acceptable". Cited concerns include distress (convulsions, vocalization and agitation), anxiety, and severe pain. Other methods, comprising lethal injection, electrocution and shooting, are preferred.

The dark side of the dog boom

One of our Observers in Japan, Lee Chapman, saw the report on Fuji TV, and posted the following on his blog, Tokyo Times:

The dog boom's not all fun and games, and after years of depicting these dogs as cute and cuddly little accessories, it's good to see that at least one TV channel had bravely opted to air the dark side of it. A video that is undoubtedly distressing, and made even more uncomfortable by the knowledge that it's a practice that is performed practically every day. Horrific as it is, good on Fuji TV for actually showing it. 

Despite Japan being notorious for fast to appear and equally fast to fade fads, the so-called Japanese pet boom, which has amazingly been ‘booming' for years now, stills shows no signs of abating - at least as far as decidedly diminutive dogs are concerned. And as such, the likes of fancy pet foodstuffs, fashion and constant cries of kawaii! [‘Cute!'] are unfortunately far from uncommon.

In fact, it's a trend that some suggest is possibly being driven by a considerable number of these pets being seen as child substitutes, which, given their often over-the-top treatment and Japan's low birth rate [1.37 children per woman in 2008], could well be true."


A dog suit (at a cost of 12,600 Yen (€95), a dog cafeteria, and a dog kimono on sale in Tokyo. Photos by Lee.

Spotted in Ichibancho, Sendai (north Japan). Posted by "letsgoing".

Spotted in Asakusa (central). Posted by "Tony Lee".

You may find these images upsetting.

© Fuji Television Network Inc.