by Ewa Nowogorski
Because of Japan’s physical proximity to Australia and Southeast Asia, some big providers of exotic animals, importing them is relatively easy and the survival rates for these animals is higher, as the shorter travel distances put them under less stress.
While this trend is slowly changing, animal rights are close to nonexistent, and you can buy a purebred cat or dog as easily as a new brand name purse, and throw it away just as easily once you get bored. Exotic animals are the same. A lot of pet stores sell owls, ferrets, protected turtles and reptiles, parrots and other exotic birds without requiring potential buyers to show any kind of proof of ability to care for the animal. Animals are commodities that provide monetary gains for their captors and sellers, and temporary amusement for their buyers.
That is not to say that some Japanese people don’t truly care for their pets, but choosing to buy them from shoddy businesses that do not care for their welfare helps support the cruel business. Japan does indeed have a huge divide between those that treat animals better than they would their own children and those who can only see an animal at its superficial face value.
Some owners easily give up their pets when they realize they cannot control its undesired behaviors, or when they have to move to a location that does not allow pets. When they are unable to find a new home on such short notice, those animals are usually tossed to kill shelters, where animals are quickly gassed in “dream boxes” after being taken in. And in some cases, animals are just released into the streets to fend for themselves. This is the most common for cats.
In America, the sale and purchase of many exotic species is severely limited, and most shelters are very critical of potential adopters, screening them to make sure that they are responsible enough and actually financially capable to care for a pet. In the US, private individuals are not allowed to keep owls as pets, unless to train them for rehabilitation or serve as fosters while they are being raised with intent for later release into the wild.