An unemployed woman in Japan was charged with animal abuse for hoarding more than 200 dogs in unsanitary conditions.
The Chiba Prefectural Police raided her cramped home in March and found 221 Maltese and Shih Tzu hybrids festering in their own waste.
The 63-year-old woman from Yachimata, Chiba Prefecture, reportedly admitted to the confession and told investigators, “It was definitely abuse.”
She was charged with violating the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals on Tuesday.
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The pet owner is believed to have kept the dogs since 2012, according to the prefectural police’s life safety division. She reportedly lost control of her dogs’ breeding and was unable to track the number of dogs in her home.
The Inba Public Health Center had repeatedly ordered the woman to clean her home after multiple complaints from her neighbors regarding the noise of her dogs’ barks and the foul odor of their feces and urine. However, there had not been any improvement in their environment.
Nearby residents could also see the dogs suffering from skin diseases and hear them howling for hours throughout the night.
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“This is a clear case of animal abuse,” Rie Kaneko, the president of Companion Animal Club Ichikawa which helped rescue the dogs, told Vice. “They were emaciated and covered in scars, even on their eyes, because they were fighting—some have actually killed each other.”
The vice president of Animal Life Matters Association, Yumiko Takemoto, who is involved in the case of the 221 dogs, told Vice the owner was not willing to give up her pets.
“If you peered inside her home, you could see dogs on top of each other near the front door, in the hallway, all the way up her stairs, and I wondered if there was even a place for a human being to eat,” Takemoto said. “We would offer to take some of the dogs and would let her choose which pets to give up, but she’d say she was tired—she refused to give them up.”
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The dogs have been taken under the protection of the prefectural government and are currently in the process of finding new homes.
Animal hoarding has become a growing concern in Japan in the last few years, leading officials to revise the animal protection law. Those found guilty of animal abuse may face up to a year in prison or a fine of up to 1 million yen (approximately $7,440).
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Featured Image via Chiba Prefectural Police