A head of an animal shelter in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, was arrested on November 9, 2022, for abusing dogs on suspicion of violating the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals.

Hiroshi Kawai, 59, who runs Rescued Animal Network (RAN), stands accused of abusing a Shiba Inu dog and a large mongrel on three occasions by poking them with a stick and slapping them at his shelter in Fujisawa City between April and May this year. The video provided by the police showed Kawai beating the dog’s head and poking it with a stick through a gap in its cage. Upon questioning, Kawai denied some charges, saying he was punishing the dogs for correcting their problematic behavior. The RAN’s website explains that they “take the initiative to protect problematic dogs, train them to correct their behavior, and send them off to new owners.”

Previously, abuse was witnessed and prosecuted by another animal rights group over two years ago, but the Yokohama District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the case. Following the dismissal, 107 dogs temporarily taken into custody from RAN were possibly to be returned to him. While there were growing calls for the indictment among animal lovers, a new abuse has been reported leading to an arrest this time. The police are investigating the condition of other dogs to see if there are any more crimes. Soya Tomono, a local Fujisawa city councilor, said on his blog,  “I’ll ask the public health center what will happen to the dogs if the case is prosecuted and the defendant is convicted.”

RAN has been known for fundraising events accompanied by dogs in front of busy train stations, which activists and the public have viewed as animal exploitation.

Yuko Kubo
Yuko Kubo is a multicultural communication expert and passionate animal rights supporter. She transcreates vegan materials from English into Japanese and vice versa. Having worked in the private, academic, and public sectors, she utilizes her expertise to support people better understand veganism, which is new as a term but rooted in humanity. She believes combining veganism and philanthropy is a key to finding solutions to urgent issues we face to make the world a better place. She lives in Tokyo and longs for an opportunity to snorkel in the tropical water.