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Military Family Pets Euthanized In Okinawa Despite Microchips

Dog facing euthanization at Okinawa Prefectural Animal Protection and Control Center.
Doggie Orphans Great & Small
Dog facing euthanization at Okinawa Prefectural Animal Protection and Control Center.

Workers at the Japanese government-run Okinawa Prefectural Animal Protection and Control Center say the pets of U.S. military families are being needlessly put to sleep - because the American-run kennel in charge of tracking down lost pets fails to contact them in time.

An investigation by the Stars and Stripes found the U.S. military’s centralized veterinarian and kennel service on Kadena Air Base, called Karing Kennels, is supposed to track service members' pets if they become lost. U.S. bases require the animals to have microchips, but the Okinawa shelter can't read the chips - so it's up to Karing Kennels to provide the Japanese shelter with the pets' identifying information.

Okinawa shelter official Tsunehiro Hirayasu told Stars and Stripes dogs are kept alive at the shelter for five days, and cats for four. Hirayasu said it sometimes takes Karing Kennels workers as many as two weeks to get back to the Okinawa shelter after they're contacted about a pet with a military-implanted microchip:

“We can assume that there is shortage in manpower, but the slow or limited answer makes us wonder how serious they are about helping the pet return to its owner or making the owner accountable for his or her pet.”

Kadena Air Base spokesman Maj. Chris Anderson said in response to the Stars and Stripes investigation:

“Those pets, that is our family, and we have to take care of our family."

According to Doggies, Inc., a non-profit group that aims to rescue the dogs and cats on death row at the Okinawa shelter, more than 3,500 dogs and 4,000 cats are gassed to death at the facility each year.