For Wild Dogs

 Before World War II, private companies under the supervision of the police under the Police Agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs were engaged in capturing wild dogs and free-ranging dogs. Later, in 1948, the Public Health Center Law was enacted and veterinary quarantine services were transferred to public health centers. After the postwar enforcement of the Rabies Prevention Law, rabies prevention technicians (names vary by prefecture) have been performing juvenile prevention work under the direct supervision of rabies prevention officers who are veterinarians.

Rabies prevention technicians (dog catchers) contributed greatly to the end of rabies through their dedicated work in capturing wild dogs and free-ranging dogs.

by Masao Ui, former chief of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Public Health and former president of the National Council of Veterinarians for Public Health


  • How to Sweep Wild Dogs
  • Detention Period
  • Buying up wild dogs
  • Neutering

▶ How to Sweep Wild Dogs

① Capture
 Generally, rope and wire were used.

② Drug Killing
 Strychnine nitrate was sometimes mixed with feed and used as a drug. Even today, Article 17 of the Rabies Prevention Law stipulates the use of strychnine nitrate for drugging.

・Methods under the supervision of police officers
 The animals were drugged by licking cotton soaked in strychnine nitrate with a stick.

・Leaving the animals for a certain period of time
 The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has selected 68 locations in 52 public health centers in Tokyo and reportedly poisoned 327 animals. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government claims that no problems with owners occurred as a result of adequate publicity.

 When the law first described the extermination of wild dogs, bludgeoning was permitted. Although it was supposed to be done only when it was difficult to capture the animals and avoid public places, it is said that most of the dogs were killed by bludgeoning.

▶ Detention Period

 In 1881, for the first time, the regulations for dog control clearly stated that if an unmarked dog was caught, it was to be kept at the police station for up to one week. Later, in 1922, it was established that if a roaming dog with an unknown owner is detained, the dog may be disposed by the district director after three days of public notification to that effect; in 1944, due to a rabies epidemic, the detention period for rabid dogs was changed from three days to 24 hours.

▶ Buying up wild dogs

 Cash in exchange for dogs was considered most effective and tended to be particularly successful in large cities. Anyone could exchange cash for dogs.

《Changes in the amount of money purchased》

 The amount of money purchased could be determined by the local government, with a minimum, maximum, and standard amount set by the competent authorities (e.g., Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry). The amount could be temporarily raised in response to the outbreak of rabies and the number of accidents involving rabies bites.

YearAdult DogsChild dogs
192825 sen25 sen
1930-194140 sen10 sen
1941(temporary raising)70 sen50 sen
19443 yen1 yen
* The unit “yen” has different amount of value from current yen.
*Yen of this age is about the same as 100 “sen”.

▶ Neutering

 Around 1937, the Metropolitan Police Department took the lead in implementing a comprehensive prevention method aimed at eradicating rabies. As part of this effort, a council meeting was held with practicing veterinarians to ensure that spaying and neutering was performed thoroughly. Specifically, citizens could apply to the local police station for spay/neuter surgery, and officers would provide the surgery free of charge. Sterilization surgeries were performed by practicing veterinarians at their own expense.