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Most pet owners on Japan bases either take their pets along on permanent changes of station or find them new homes before they depart, according to base officials.

“We ask all of our pet owners to do the right thing when it comes time to PCS,” said Bill Doughty, spokesman for Yokosuka Naval Base near Tokyo.

Almost all of Yokosuka’s pet owners comply with immunization, registration, proper housing, control and other requirements, he said.

Yokosuka’s Veterinary Treatment Facility has, however, rescued two rabbits and a guinea pig over the past year found by residents hiking in Ikego, said veterinarian Army Capt. Claire Cornelius.

At Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, Sandy Dominguez, president of the volunteer pet rescue group Pets Are Worth Saving, or PAWS, said abandoned pets there wander on base from surrounding communities.

Residents’ pets have microchip implants, she said, and it’s made clear that abandoning a pet at Misawa means owners will be “tracked down and charged via the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” The abandoned pets may be adopted out, but the original owners can be billed for upkeep and other expenses, she said.

Gail Benton, Sasebo Naval Base housing director, echoed Doughty and Dominguez by saying abandoned pets are not a major issue, although stray cats occasionally are encountered.

Sasebo housing residents must follow regulations, she said. That includes limiting pets to two per household, registering the pets, having microchips implanted and getting all shots and licenses.

“Of course, we don’t condone anyone leaving here and abandoning their pets,” Benton said. “But once they leave, there’s not much the actual housing department can do.”

The Yokosuka PAWS and similar groups, which Doughty calls “invaluable organizations,” often “foster” pets with willing residents until a new family or individual adopts the animal.

Base Animal Rescue, or BAR, is such a volunteer rescue group at Sasebo Naval Base. Just like PAWS, this group has the command’s blessing but raises its own operating funds.

Tina Grant, a BAR organizer, said members of her group find few abandoned pets on base, typically locating one to three cats per month.

“Some of them think because their pet is a cat, it will survive fine on its own wits,” she said. “But that’s just not true. Every cat we’ve rescued on base had a microchip, meaning it was a domesticated pet. And most of them are declawed. … How’s a cat supposed to catch food, or defend itself, without claws?”

Agencies that help abandoned pets

Naval Air Facility Atsugi: Security, DSN 264-3200

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni: Veterinary Treatment Facility, DSN 253-3588

Misawa Air Base: PAWS (Pets Are Worth Saving), DSN 222-7002

Sasebo Naval Base: BAR (Base Animal Rescue), DSN 252-8319

Yokosuka Naval Base: PAWS, DSN 243-9996

Yokota Air Base: 374th Pet Grooming and Adoption Unit, DSN 225-8906

Camp Zama: Veterinary Treatment Facility, DSN 263-3875


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