by Dr. Herb Friedman

I always get many letters asking about where people can buy pets from reliable breeders and/or pet stores.

A long, long time ago, I tried to get in touch with reliable breeders in order to be able to recommend their establishments to the pet-seeking public.

Unfortunately, not many breeders were reading my column and I was therefore unable to help.

Pet stores, by and large, are just not the place to buy pets here in Japan. There are exceptions, of course, but one must be very, very careful.

There are pet store owners who try hard to look after the puppies they have for sale, but there are many more who run puppy mills and who will sell you sickly puppies that will run up high veterinary bills if they survive at all.

I cannot imagine how these people can sleep at night after selling an unsuspecting animal lover a puppy that they know re­quires immediate medical care.

For instance, if you tell the pet store owner that the puppy has a cough and a runny nose, he will often tell you that the puppy has a slight cold and that this will go away in a few days. Most often, this slight cold is really an early case of canine distemper that will never disappear on its own and may cause the death of the puppy, if left untreated.

Secondly, these pet store owners will always tell you that the puppy has been vaccinated—but don’t believe this. If the pup has been given any vaccinations at all, it was probably a “puppy shot” that gives two weeks immunity.

Of course, we all know that the first adult DHL vaccination should be administered at eight weeks of age and the second DHL, at 12 weeks- Since puppies shouldn’t go to a new home before eight weeks in any case, the pup should have had its first shot.

Unfortunately, many pet shops try and save this ex­pense, leaving this up to the new owner.

Thirdly, puppies are going for outrageous sums here in Tokyotown. It almosts seems that for a little more money, one could put down a pay­ment on a house or car.

If these idiots don’t try and control their greed, they will be instrumental in end­ing the “pet boom” in Japan.

A woman wrote me about one well-known kennel on Aoyama-dori which I have had the misfortune of seeing for myself. She writes that the animals look terrified and have no room to turn around, have no water in their cage and appear sick.

I myself have seen the mangy, sickly puppies that these people try and foist off at such ridiculous prices on people with big hearts who don’t know any better. It is a shame and I can always be sure of receiving two or three letters of this nature every week.

I can do nothing to help this situation but several groups ran.

For one, there is the local police station where one can make out a written com­plaint that the animals are being abused. In this case, the police must act under the provisions of the Humane Animal Law which was passed last year.

Offenders are subject to a stiff fine.

Secondly, one can and should contact the Japan Animal Welfare Society (JAWS-offices in annex of the Masonic Building) because this is their business— and they should be a big help to all animals and animal lovers.

The main thing to remem­ber is this—when you feel sorry for that poor animal in the window of that pet store and think you are helping by buying him and relieving him of more suffer­ing, stop and think about all the other puppies later.

When you buy these pups, you encourage these businessmen to purchase more pups and treat them the same way. Some of them even count on your sympathy in their sales promotion. Better to try and end these horrible conditions than let them perpetuate themselves ad infinitum.

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A certain petowner writes wanting to know why some cats react so badly to flea bites and some show no sensitivity whatsoever. I really don’t know the answer other than the fact that some of us are more sensi­tive to allergy-causing factors than others.

A mosquito bito may not bother you, but it causes mo a great deal of discomfort. Some people react to rag­weed and have a very severe seasonal bay fever attack. Others ran be subjected to the weed and show no re­action at all.

The bite of the flea re­leases foreign allergin into the body and the body mechanism reacts by form­ing antibody. Some people overreact in this buildup of antibody and the same is true in the case of the dog and cat as concerns flea bite dermatitis.

A flea bite is very bad during this season and especially bad this year. The best relief is an anti-imflammatory agent and a weekly dusting with a good flea powder.

Unfortunately for the animals and us gaijin, strong effective flea powders and sprays are not to be found in Japan very often. If you can buy the spray or powder or flea shampoo in a local store, you can be very sure that it is weak enough to go unlicensed and not strong enough to keep the fleas away.