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URUMA, Okinawa — A pit bull terrier owned by a U.S. sailor is suspected of killing a calf in the Nohen district of Uruma, prompting a new prefectural campaign to inform Americans connected to the military about the rules of off-base dog ownership.

Eiichi Miwa, of the prefectural government’s Pharmaceutical and Public Health Affairs Office, said Americans might think registering their animals at the veterinary clinic on Kadena Air Base is sufficient.

But "the regulations require all dog owners living off base to register their dogs at the municipal government center where they reside, even if the dog has been registered on base," he said.

Americans appear to be unaware of that requirement. According to Okinawa City records, 5,559 dogs are registered, including 12 pit bull terriers. However, no person connected to the U.S. military has registered a pet.

After two stray pit bulls were caught last week, the prefecture made a brochure, with the help of volunteers from the military, to distribute to servicemembers, Miwa said.

Pit bulls have been a frequent thorn in the side of local officials, who say servicemembers fail to register the dogs and follow the rules for confining them.

Okinawa officials placed strict controls on the dogs after a pit bull owned by a local resident attacked two children in 1995, killing one and seriously injuring the other. In 2003, a stray pit bull tore off the thumb of a woman in Okinawa City.

A prefectural ordinance designates pit bulls as a fighting breed and requires that they be kept chained or caged when at home and on a leash and muzzled when being walked.

The dog suspected of killing the calf was caught June 23 and was traced by a microchip to an American living in nearby Okinawa City, Okinawa police reported. The man’s name was not released.

Hiroki Nakamatsu, of the Uruma Environmental Protection Office, said the sailor claimed the dog three days later. He told authorities it had been missing since June 18.

Nakamatsu said the other stray pit bull, with no microchip, was caught June 26 in the Akamichi district of the city. Its owner has not been identified.

Police had been looking for stray dogs in the area ever since a calf was discovered in a barn June 22 with a front leg bitten off.

A local veterinarian examined the calf and said the bites, which tore the flesh and severed the bones, appeared to have been caused by a fighting dog.

Stars and Stripes reporter Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this story.


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