Nursing home for dogs to open in Japan

Dog retirement homes might soon be the new norm.The field of veterinary technology might soon see changes in the way elderly pets are cared for. The Japanese company Aeonpet Co., part of the larger Aeon supermarket chain, has announced it will officially be opening a retirement home for elderly dogs.1 The nursing facility hopes to address the reality that as household dogs eventually get old, owners might not be able to provide them with the constant care they need. Though this idea might seem like a novelty, the company hopes to make these homes for elderly dogs a common practice, and expand across Japan and beyond.

Aeon’s dog retirement home

The idea for a home for elderly dogs was conceived by Aeon in collaboration with the Pet Inn at Narita International Airport. The Pet Inn provides accommodations for dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and hamsters.2 The Pet Inn opened  almost a decade ago to provide a luxury resort, rather than a kennel, for pets to stay in while their owners traveled. At the time, the country was home to over 19 million pets.3 The company has now realized that caring for elderly pets can be a challenge for which many owners aren’t prepared, and that dogs deserve easy access to veterinary assistance in their older years.

The new nursing facility will be able to hold 20 dogs, but Aeon plans to expand quickly. Not only will the facilities have a vet on call, but dogs will also have access to a swimming pool, gym and grooming facilities.4 Owners will be able to visit their pets and spend time with them at the facilities. However, placing dogs in the home will not be cheap. Though the price ultimately depends somewhat on the size of the dog, larger breeds are expected to cost around $1,000 each month.5

There are many different reasons for opening a facility such as this in Japan. An enormous pet population in the country has resulted in a subsequently large population of stray cats and dogs. In 2012, the Japanese government rounded up over 200,000 stray cats and dogs, the majority of which were euthanized.6 To try and counteract this trend, the government has implemented several laws regarding pets. The first law mandates microchips with owner information be attached to all pets that are sold.7 This way, if an owner releases their pet, it is traceable. The second law requires all pet owners to care for their pets until the animal dies.8 Dog retirement homes will make it easier for pet owners to comply with the latter.

The cost of dogs

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates the annual cost of owning a small, medium or large dog is $420, $620, and $780, respectively.9 This number does not include unexpected medical and capital expenses.Though the elderly dog home is expensive by comparison, the high quality of care ensures that pets are being treated well and that owners are complying with  the new laws. One of Japan’s major problems with pet care stems from the fact that pets were an ephemeral fad, and many owners were not prepared to accept responsibility for their pets long term.

In the United States, the figures for dog care are similar. Kenneling a pet costs approximately $20-25 per day, while a pet hotel can be triple that amount.10 This means that depending on your work schedule, geographic location and individual pet needs, the costs of caring for a dog can reach a staggering amount. This is why in both Japan and the United States, people considering adopting or purchasing pets are encouraged to thoroughly consider the investment before committing to dog ownership.

1“Japan opens first elderly dog retirement home” by Julian Ryall. Telegraph. June 10, 2014. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/10888438/Japan-opens-first-elderly-dog-retirement-home.html

2http://www.petinn-royal.jp/index_e.html

3“Tokyo gets five-star hotel for pampered pets” by Justin McCurry. The Guardian. November 30, 2005. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/dec/01/japan.travelnews

4“A Nursing Home for Dogs Is Opening in Japan” by Olivia B. Waxman. Time. June 16, 2014. http://time.com/2881761/a-nursing-home-for-dogs-is-opening-in-japan/ 

5“A Nursing Home for Dogs Is Opening in Japan” by Olivia B. Waxman. Time. June 16, 2014. http://time.com/2881761/a-nursing-home-for-dogs-is-opening-in-japan/

6“Gov’t announces ‘zero stray dogs and cats’ action plan” Japan Today. June 5, 2014.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-announces-zero-stray-dogs-and-cats-action-plan

7“Gov’t announces ‘zero stray dogs and cats’ action plan” Japan Today. June 5, 2014.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-announces-zero-stray-dogs-and-cats-action-plan

8“Luxury Nursing Home for Dogs to Cost $1K Per Month in Japan” by Arata Yamamoto. NBC News. June 11, 2014 http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/luxury-nursing-home-dogs-cost-1k-month-japan-n128246 

9http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/general-dog-care

10“The Pet Guide: Pet Care Cost” by Steve Penhollow. Care.com. http://www.care.com/pet-care-pet-care-cost-p1145-q7401.html