Health officials in Japan, responding to complaints from neighbours, raided a small house in the western city of Izumo and discovered one of the worst cases of animal hoarding in the country’s history.
164 dogs, most of them in very poor health, were crammed into a house with 320 square feet of floor space.
The family of three living in the tiny home told officials that they couldn’t afford to pay for the dogs to be spayed or neutered so they had just “multiplied.”
Kunihisa Sagami, head of animal rights charity Dōbutsu Kikin, said there was so little space that the parasite-infested animals were crammed onto shelves and under tables and chairs.
“The entire floor was filled with dogs and all the floor space you could see was covered with faeces,” he told Reuters.
Public health officials say they first visited the house seven years ago, but the owners had refused to let them in.
Sagami said the family have now agreed to give up the dogs and Dōbutsu Kikin would get the animals the treatment they needed before trying to re-home them.
Animal hoarding is a growing problem in Japan. The country’s ageing population has led to many elderly people becoming isolated and turning to dogs and cats for companionship.
Most recent figures reveal that officials were called to more than 2,000 cases of animal hoarding in the year from 2018 to 2019.
At least a third of this cases involved owners aged 70 or over, many of them suffering with dementia.
Japanese lawmakers have introduced new legislation to make neutering of spaying compulsory – but with many elderly pet owners living in “difficult” circumstances with little money to spend on vets’ bills that law may be hard to enforce.
In March this year 238 cats were discovered living in one filthy house and in June, a man in his 50s was arrested after it was revealed that he had been keeping 66 dogs in an empty property, only visiting them once or twice a week to feed them.