Adopting A Pet in Tokyo / How and Where Can I Find A Pet?!


Are you a fur ball lover and ready to find your perfect companion? Tokyo has a large number of pets ready to be adopted and find their forever families. Compared to the West, where pet shops seem to be on the decline, you’ll notice a great many pet shops still operating in Tokyo.

You will find the tiniest puppies and kittens inside those pet shops, some being just 7~8 weeks old. Although they may be tiny, cute, and cuddly, their hefty price tags are anything but that (pets are quite expensive in Tokyo pet shops!). The amount of “puppy mills” in this country is surprising and very sad.

The reality of when that cute cuddle ball fad dies down, is that most of those dogs/cats get sent to shelters, with nearly 80% of them being euthanized. When compared to the US, with only 32% being euthanized, it’s shocking and disheartening.

There are many cute, lovable pets in the adoption system out there looking for a forever home. Why don’t you adopt, not shop, and give one of those adorable babies a future and a family?



How To Start The Process for Pet Adoption

If you are familiarized with a pet adoption system from overseas, it could be very different from how pet adoption works in Tokyo.

Japanese pet adoption agencies and NPOs don’t take adoption lightly, and they want to ensure that the fur babies under their care, never end up back on the streets or in a shelter again. So although the process might seem tiresome, remember these volunteers are trying their best to help change a culture in Japan, where Pets are sometimes not considered family members and are given up too easily.


Make Sure Your Home is Pet-Friendly

You might be thinking, “Of course, I will get some gates and a doggy bed, and then I’m all good to go”, but that’s not exactly what we mean here.

Apartments in Japan are either pet-friendly or not, meaning that they either allow tenants to have a pet in their building or don’t. Even if your apartment is “pet-friendly”, they might have restrictions on the type of pets allowed, such as the pet’s size or what kind of pet you can have. If you aren’t sure whether your current home is pet friendly or not, then contact your Agent- we’re more than happy to confirm for you.

If your apartment is NOT pet-friendly, but adopting a pet is dear and near your heart, it might be time to Contact Us again to help you find the perfect place for a new fur family member!


Choose An Agency and Send In That Application

Below is a list of agencies (scroll down to Which Pet Adoption Agencies Are English and Expat Friendly?)- both English speaking targeting Expats, as we Japanese organizations.

When you are ready to adopt, first you will need to fill out an application form. This will give the agency a good idea if the pet you are looking for is available and suitable for your lifestyle and living conditions.


Be Prepared Financially So That You Can Afford A New Pet

Although adopting a pet comes at a much lower cost than buying from the pet store, most agencies will ask for ¥20,000 to cover the vaccines and vet check-ups needed before passing you your pet.

Some agencies might even ask to check your bank statements to see that you can afford to feed and take care of the pet!

Depending on the brand and quality of food you would like to give your pet, pet food in Japan can be quite expensive. Of course, Japan does have affordable brands such as IAMS and Science Diet.

Get Your House Ready for A Home Visit

The agency will likely send over one of their volunteers to check that your living situation is ideal for owning a pet.

If you end up adopting a pet from another prefecture, they could ask you first to come and meet them and the pet you want to adopt, along with bringing house interior photos (or sending through email).

Depending on the agency you choose, some might find that emailing back and forth and a phone call will be good enough. During this interview, they will ask you questions such as, “What would you do in the situation you find out you have an allergy to your pet?”, or, “How do you plan on caring for your pet when you go on vacation, and how long would you be away from them?”.

In some extreme cases, you will be asked never to leave your pet alone (for instance, one family member is always working from home).



After Getting Approved, What Are the Next Steps?


Congratulations!  Getting approved is the hardest and longest step!

What can you expect from the moment of approval until you receive your new fur baby?

Each agency will have different requirements, and the process will depend on if it’s a full adoption- or considered “fostering.” Some agencies use the term “fostering”, meaning they ask you to take care of the pet until their last breath, but they still technically own the pet.

If- for some reason- they feel like the animal is being abused or the rules they set up are not being followed, they could take the pet back from you. The fostering option will be more hands-on with the agency for the first six months to 1st year of your care, but after that, they will only require a yearly report.


Get Your Pet-friendly Place Truly Pet-Friendly

You might receive a recommended list of things to prepare for your pet’s arrival; things such as toilet sheets, a few toys, treats, and a bed.

Again- each organization is different, but they will probably bring you two weeks’ worth of pet food. If you would like to change the type of food they have been feeding your pet, remember to slowly incorporate the new food, mixed with the current food.


Trial Period, Connecting with Your New Family Member

Most agencies will ask for a two week trial period to ensure your pet is a good fit for both you and the animal.

Within the two week trial period, they will check in on you- sometimes daily- to ensure all is going well. Once the two weeks are over, if you and the pet are happy, you will become family!  🙂

If you are “fostering” the pet (as explained 2 paragraphs up), the agency will have a timeline of check-ins, including how often they need contact and progress pictures, etc.


Awaiting for the Big Day

It is here, the day that you get to welcome your fur baby into your home for the first time.

This day will be the start of your two-week trial.

A volunteer from the organization will drive your pet to their new home, usually asking you to cover tolls or gas fees, as well as bring the paperwork for you to sign. Let the bonding and memories begin!!



Which Pet Adoption Agencies Are English and Expat Friendly?

Below are agencies that can communicate entirely in English and are very happy to help Expats find a loving fur baby.


Ark Tokyo

Animal Rescue Kansai has shelters in both Osaka and Tokyo. Their website is in English, and they are happy to match Expats with pets. They hold adoption fairs throughout the city.

NPO SALA Network

SALA, which stands for “Save Animals Love Animals”, is another organization aiming to help rescue pets and find them forever homes. Website available in English.

WanWan Party Club

Sippo Net is an organization that helps to find city homes for dogs abandoned in rural areas. It tends to lean towards the foster care side, requiring some training sessions before adopting the dog.

Japan Cat Network

Japan Cat Network had a substantial role during the 3/11 earthquake in finding new homes for displaced cats. The headquarters are in the Tohoku area, but they now have a small shelter in Tokyo. Their facebook website is an excellent network of people finding cats (and sometimes dogs) and finding new homes for them. Their slogan is, “Helping People Help Pets”.


Japanese Pet Adoption Agencies

Can you speak and read Japanese proficiently? Or maybe one of your family members is Japanese. If so, then there are many more organizations and a significant amount of animals to be adopted. The only downfall is that sometimes agencies are not willing to place their pets into Expats’ homes, concerned about what will happen to the pet if you had to leave the country, etc.

It is a hit or miss with which agency is willing to work with Expats, so if you are ok with the potential of being denied, then check out these other sites. We know of a mixed Japanese and American family, who successfully and luckily, got their dog from one of the sites below.


Pet No Ouchi (Japanese language only)

This site lists pets (dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, etc.) from all over Japan belonging to different organizations or groups. If you see a pet that you like, you can contact the organization directly through this site. The site is all in Japanese, but using a translation tool can help you navigate through it.


Itsudemo Satoya Boshuchu (Japanese language only)

Works similar to Pet No Ouchi;a site that gathers pets from all over Japan. You can narrow your search down to the type, size, and sex of the pet you want. When you find a pet you are interested in, contact the group currently taking care of that pet (through this site).

Adding a bundle of fur (or scales if you’re looking for a reptile) to your home can be rewarding for both you and the animal you bring into your family. Giving these pets another chance towards a loving home, in return, makes your home a better place. There is no other bond like this. We hope that you can find the perfect match to help brighten yours and your pets lives! Wishing you the best of luck!!

Another pet related article you might be interested in:

Bringing your pet to Tokyo


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