|Interest in Pets - Allowed Collective Housing Increases
in Housing-Related Industries
Symposium, Entitled "Living with Pets in Collective Housing,"
Held with the Aim of "Promoting Better Coexistence
Between People and Companion Animals"
On October 18,
the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC)held a
symposium, "Living with Pets in Collective Housing," for members of
housing-related industries. More than 300 people, from fields such
as real estate, construction, condominium management, architectural
design, the media and animal organizations, gathered at the symposium
site Eminence Hall, on the fifth floor of Tokyo's Keio Plaza Hotel
for what proved to be a very large and lively event.
In October, CAIRC celebrated the second
anniversary of its founding. During these years, we have vigorously
conducted educational activities related to keeping pets, and worked
tirelessly to help create an urban environment where pets can live
more comfortably. Recently, moreover, use of the term "companion animal"
has spread, and society at large has increasingly recognized the importance
of the psychological benefits that pets can provide people.
In February 1998, CAIRC began the free
distribution of a textbook, Living with Dogs and Cats in Collective
Housing. Since then, we have received numerous inquiries about this
textbook from real estate-related companies, and from this we realized
that many companies are still searching for how best to proceed when
it comes to building and managing pets-allowed collective housing.
At present, pets-allowed collective housing
is increasing. At the same time, however, there has been increasing
talk about the pet problems at such housing. To deal with these problems,
an approach that takes non-pet-owning residents and other neighbors
into account is necessary. This, however, is not something that individuals
can do on their own. They require the organizational backing of, say,
a construction company or a property management company. Cases where
pet problems are addressed at the municipal level have also increased.
The aim of this symposium was to get the
attendees to think about what needs to be done to bring about a society
in which people and pets can harmoniously coexist. Towards that end,
it featured three lectures by experts in pet problems and pets-allowed
housing, as well as a video produced by CAIRC.
Lectures and Video Confirm Pet Matters in
320 People Related to Housing, the Media and Animal Organizations
Attend CAIRC Symposium
The symposium began at one in the afternoon,
with a greeting from CAIRC president, Yoichi Shoda, who was absent
due to public business, being read by proxy. "Awareness about pets
has greatly increased," his greeting said. "At the same time, not
a few collective housing complexes have banned pets, because of problems
and trouble related to them. Through this symposium we hope to make
you better aware of where this situation now stands."
Following the greeting, the keynote speech
was delivered by Professor Yuji Mori, of Veterinary Ethology at the
University of Tokyo. Entitled "Urban Living and Pets:Dogs and Cats
as Seen from the Viewpoint of Ethology," this speech covered a wide
range of topics, from how pets facilitate communication between urban
residents, to methods of solving pet behavior problems.
"In a study conducted at Cornell University
in the United States," Professor Mori said, "it was found that, among
dog behavior problems, 60% involved aggressive behavior. Most of these
problems were caused by the dog's mistaken impression that it was
the boss. Aggressive behavior was also found to be caused by jealousy,
as might happen, for example, when a family that lavished a lot affection
on a dog had a baby and that affection then diminished. The second
most common type of behavior problem was destructive behavior, such
as tearing up curtains, or continuing to bark, after the dog's master
leaves the home. Such behavior is thought to result from separation
anxiety. In most cases, it can be controlled when it is understood
and handled from a ethology standpoint. Another emphasis was that
the personality of dogs varies with the breed. It's best not to think
that a dog is going to be difficult to keep just because it's big,
or easy to keep just because it's small. I'd recommend that, based
on the advice of experts, people choose a breed that suits their particular
video produced by CAIRC was shown. This video focused on the pets-
related "hardware" and "software" used in housing built in the recovery
from the Kobe Earthquake which was also the first public-managed,
pets-allowed collective housing in Japan as well as in some of
the newest pets-allowed housing; and also included interviews with
housing residents. With pet owners widely voicing the view that a
pet is a family member, as epitomized by the role that pets played
in providing psychological comfort following the earthquake, we were
reconfirmed in our conviction of the importance of promoting the right
to keep pets in collective housing.
Imoto, director of the Imoto Animal Hospital, delivered a lecture
entitled "Creating Community in Collective Housing The Importance
of Establishing 'Pet-owners Groups' and Training Animals." Director
Imoto is not only a veterinarian; he is also one of the main (and
founding) members of the pet-owners' group in the collective housing
complex where he lives. "In the condominium complex where I live,"
he said, "there were approximately 10 complaints about pets each year
before the pet-owners' group was formed. Since then, the situation
has changed greatly. In the year following the group's formation,
there were only two complaints,and since then there have been none.
The pet-owners group is like an address that people can come to with
their grievances. It enables grievances to be handled and defused
immediately, before they get out of hand. It clearly represents a
willingness to take responsibility for pets; and that, I think, has
put non-pet owners at ease, and helped bring about the current absence
of complaints. The group has also fostered a greater sense of community
responsibility among pet owners themselves, one result of which is
that their interest in the management union has increased. When there
are pet problems, the role that the management union plays in maintaining
and creating community is enormous. Condominium management has the
function of providing the support that residents need to live comfortably.
The relationship between residents is completely different than that
between, say, employees in a company. Residents are ultimately a community
of property-owning equals, not an organization in which directives
flow vertically from the top down. Therefore, to solve problems in
collective housing, it is important for management companies to provide
support as a coordinator, facilitating relations between the residents.
I also think they should provide as much support as possible for the
establishment of pet-owners groups."
The last lecture, by Masumi Yoshida, professor
in the Department of Law at Doshisha University, was entitled "Trends
in Management Rules and Legal Decisions as Regards Keeping Pets."
Professor Yoshida's specialty includes mortgage law, real estate law
and condominium law. In addition, he has done research on pet law.
no law that says you can't keep pets in a condominium," he said. "A
condominium complex is governed by its management rules. If it doesn't
expressly state in those that you can't keep pets, you can keep them.
Until now, people have tended to think that you can't keep pets in
collective housing, but that thinking has been changing a little recently.
People who like pets have increased, and breeds of dogs that don't
bark, that have gentle personalities, and that are thus appropriate
for collective housing have come to be known. Interest in pet training
and obedience is also on the rise. If awareness about how to keep
pets increases in society at large, the rules of collective housing
will also change, I think. In France, for example, being able to live
with a pet is recognized as a basic human right. The benefits that
can be obtained from living with pets are also socially recognized.
I would recommend that when pets-allowed housing is being built and
managed that a minimum of common area be used for pet facilities,
and that the management rules not be decided in too much detail. When
extensive or expensive pet facilities are built, it can evoke a negative
reaction from residents who don't own pets and invite an "us versus
them" kind of situation. In management rules, it's also best to include
just the basics, so that you don't get hemmed in by minutia and can
deal with situations flexibly. Too much detail about things like the
size of dogs can end up being counter-productive."
the lectures, the three experts sat as a panel and answered questions
for 20 minutes. Many of the questions concerned hardware at pets-allowed
housing wall materials, floor materials, foot-washing areas, etc.
Regarding floor material, the following advice was given: "Older dogs
do not sweat from their foot. Also, their legs and loins become weak.
As a result, it's hard for them to stand up and move around on slippery
flooring. Therefore, if you have an older dog, it's best to put carpeting
on part of the floor. That helps the dog to move more easily." About
the foot-washing area, there was this advice: "Expensive facilities
aren't necessary, but it's best to have some kind of foot-washing
area, if only because it puts the non-pet-owning residents at ease."
There was also this view on the same subject: "After a dog is washed,
it's often not dried adequately. That can cause illness. To dry a
dog, just wipe it with a clean,dry cloth. That's enough." The experts
thus too different approaches to the same subject. This might be called
an interim situation that exists while real estate-related companies
are still looking for the best answer to what kinds of facilities
should be included in pets-allowed housing. We look forward to their
further investigations into the matter.
In a questionnaire
carried out in the hall, we asked the attendees about their impressions
of the symposium. More than 65% said that they thought they now understood
the current situation well. Some of the comments were "I really understood
how important the harmonious coexistence of people and pets is," and
"I understood that certain things that have been viewed as pet problems
are actually people problems." On the other hand, there was also the
view: "I would have liked to hear more specifics." Since a major purpose
of this symposium was to convey the general importance of the harmonious
coexistence between people and pets, there were various subjects about
which it was impossible to go into detail. In the future we hope to
deal with the most pressing of those subjects in greater depth.