Dogs. They bring families together, support those with disabilities, provide therapy to the elderly and sick and even aid those in need during natural disasters. All they want in return is to be treated with love and care.

Sadly, far too many are put to sleep in Japan annually because of a lack of facilities and general support from the public. Though the number of NGOs supporting rescue dogs in Japan are few and far between, they still have a loud voice, and have been fighting to save Japan’s strays and feral dogs from unnecessary euthanization.

Peace Wanko Japan is a Non-profit organisation based in Hiroshima that aims to completely eradicate dog euthanization in Hiroshima prefecture.
The organisation is always on the lookout for new owners and foster carers. They also hold a number of activities throughout the year that aim at raising awareness of Japan’s animal welfare. Working with government agencies, companies and local communities, Peace Wanko Japan strives to provide a comfortable and purposeful life for all of our furry friends.

In Hiroshima’s Jinsekikōgen, where Peace Wanko Japan is based, there is a legend that tells a story of people and dogs working together to defeat an evil racoon dog monster that would terrorise the village. There is even a memorial event held annually to remember the dogs that fought against the monster.
Peace Wanko Japan’s goal is to bring dog euthanization in Hiroshima down to zero and keep it there. In the long run, the organisation hopes to bring dogs and people together to create a vibrant and sustainable community.

Peace Wanko Japan’s journey started back in 2014, when they encountered Yumenosuke. A 3 month old stray waiting on Japan’s doggy death row, Yumenosuke’s life was about to come to an abrupt end, even though it hadn’t even started. Rescued from the culling centre, Yumenosuke had no previous positive experience with people, and was a fearful shell of a dog. But with the correct rehabilitation and training, he was able to overcome his fears, and began to put his trust in people. Now, Yumenosuke has grown into a loyal and loving search and rescue dog. In August 2014, Yumenosuke safely detected and rescued victims in the rubble of Hiroshima’s landslide disaster. Rescuing and aiding those who have been hit by catastrophe across Japan, Yumenosuke does not need to prove that his life was worth it.

The rescue and rehabilitation of Yumenosuke set in motion the NGOs mission to protect homeless dogs from unnecessary culling. Since meeting Yumenosuke, Peace Wanko Japan has rescued and rehomed more than 2,300 dogs from euthanization centres in Hiroshima. Because of the work of Peace Wanko Japan and their supporters, there have been no unnecessary dog euthanizations in Hiroshima for 1635 days (at the time of writing).

However, Peace Wanko Japan is still fighting to save dogs from unnecessary death and their mission is yet to be completed. Each year thousands of stray dogs are collected from the streets and put to sleep, simply because the country does not have enough facilities to cope with the enormous number of feral dogs.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a growth of interest in pets across the country, however as pet purchases go up, adoptions have dropped. Peace Wanko Japan would like to use this boost in engagement to raise awareness of Japan’s problems with abandoned and feral dogs. As the saying goes, ‘Don’t Shop, Adopt.’
Peace Wanko Japan believes that every dog deserves a chance to have a lifetime full of love and affection, and would like to remind people that pets are not just a gift, they are for life.

September 20-27th is Animal Protection Week in Japan. During the week and until October 31st, Peace Wanko Japan is hoping to gain support for their ‘zero-euthanization’ mission by promoting pet adoption on SNS. Upload an image of your furry friend with the hashtag #保護犬猫を迎える選択肢 (translation: #chooserescuecatsanddogs) onto instagram during the event and be entered into a lottery where 35 lucky winners will be awarded with an original ‘Peace Drip Coffee Pack’ and a ‘Peace Wanko limited edition t-shirt’.

Peace Wanko Japan holds regular ‘meet the dog days’, dog school classes, rescue workshops and other events which are spread out over the year. Come along to the next ‘meet the dog day’ set to be held on October 4th at Ikoinomori Park, to see how you can support the organisation. Who knows, maybe you will also meet a new edition to your family?

Keep up to date with Peace Wanko Japan, their activities and success stories on their website. You can also follow the organization on their instagram and facebook accounts.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.