Japanese elementary school children enjoyed a dynamic performance by a troupe of 'unwanted dogs' on Wednesday (March 13) when the Wow Wow Dog Circus came through town with the aim of educating youngsters on the responsibilities of pet ownership.
Jumping rope, balancing on balls and crossing narrow balance beams the furry friends brought smiles and laughter to the students of the local public school located in Tachikawa city on the outskirts of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.
Beginning with a short ten minute speech about dog shelters and statistics on the numbers of canines abandoned each year in Japan, organizers provided the young attendants with both education and entertainment.
Impressed by what he learned one 6th grader said he didn't approve of people who abandoned their pets.
"I really felt those people that abandon their dogs and don't take responsibility for them, that's not a good thing," 12-year-old Tokutaro Takahashi said.
His classmate, Keito Aoki who also had a chance to jump rope on stage with man's best friend agreed.
"For me it is unforgivable! From the moment you buy one, until it dies, that is our obligation," Aoki said.
The Wow Wow Dog Circus aims to educate young people about the responsibilities of pet ownership and encourage them both as children and later as adults to adopt animals from shelters in preference to buying them from pet shops.
"To understand the value of life, while they are still kids, to let them know what the situation in Japan is in the hope that they will pass on what they learned to others. That is the main focus of the program," said dog trainer Kayo Takeda.
In contrast to some other nations the concept of 'doggie adoption' or animal rescue is still relatively unknown in Japan. Most pet owners purchase animals from local pet shops or kennels.
"Compared to a country like Germany the number (of adoptions) is way too low, more and more we need to use the system (for adopting abandoned dogs). The sales at pets shops are very high (in Japan), but overseas the thinking to adopt a dog is much more prevalent. I'd like to hope that Japan will move forward in that direction," Takeda told Reuters.
In Japan 100,000 dogs are abandoned and destroyed every year.