|A Big Response to Pets and Collective
130 consultation inquiries From Hokkaido to Okinawa
| Pet and Collective Housing Hotline Offers Solid
Advice from Experts in Veterinary Medicine, Law, Apartment Management
and Other Areas
The Conference on Pet Ownership in Collective Housing
and the Companion Animal Information and Research Center (CAIRC) jointly
sponsored a two-day consultation service Nov. 16-17 on issues related
to keeping pets in collective housing. A wide range of calls related
to pet ownership in collective housing were taken, and advice in each
field of expertise was provided to a total of 130 callers in locations
ranging from Hokkaido to Okinawa.
The advice hotline was part of a range of activities CAIRC has been
conducting in its ongoing effort to help promote harmonious coexistence
between humans and companion animals. These activities have included
the publication in 1998 of the free textbook Living with Dogs
and Cats in Collective Housing and subsequent revised editions,
the total distribution of which currently totals more than 30,000
copies. The book is now also available in the form of a free download
from the CAIRC Website at http://www.cairc.org.
CAIRC activities have also included holding symposia in Tokyo, Osaka
and Fukuoka on living with pets in collective housing. These symposia
focused on enabling representatives of the construction, real estate
and property management industries, as well as property management
agencies to share information.
In the two-day telephone consultation service provided as part of
this overall effort, we invited experts in a number of fields such
as veterinary medicine, law, and apartment management to give advice
to callers. The co-sponsors of the project were CAIRC and the Conference
on Pet Ownership in Collective Housing, with support from the Japan
Veterinary Medical Association and the Tokyo Veterinary Medical Association.
The Conference on Pet Ownership in Collective Housing is a coalition
established in 1992 in order to spread the acceptance in society of
pet ownership in collecting housing environments.
The Conference on Pet Ownership in Collective
Housing receives quite a few requests for consultation on this subject,
said Dr. Koichi Seino, a veterinarian and representative of the group.
Until now, weve been handling each case separately, dispensing
a wide range of advice. But this project has provided us with an opportunity
to respond to questions from a greater number of people, which I find
very gratifying. The fact that as many as 130 calls came in attests
to the importance of this issue, and to the fact that it is currently
the focus of intense concern. Rather than having each group work on
problems in separately, I would be greatly pleased to see more opportunities
like this one, which will enable us to cooperatively tackle issues
related to pet ownership in collective housing.
In all, the team of advisers included 10 specialists including law
professional and Pet Law Association Vice Director Dr. Masumi Yoshida,
veterinarian and Director of the Imoto Animal Clinic Dr. Fumio Imoto,
and Dr. Haruka Takakura, a veterinarian at the Aikawa Animal Medical
Wide-Ranging Telephone Consultation
Calls Taken from as Far Afield as Hokkaido, Tohoku, Kyushu and Okinawa
The Conference on Pet Ownership in Collective Housing
and CAIRC have compiled statistics on those who took advantage of
the two-day consultation hotline. The consultation center was located
within the 03 area code, which covers the 23 wards of greater metropolitan
Tokyo. Fully 30% of callers came from within this area, with 18% and
7% calling from neighboring Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, respectively.
Together, these areas accounted for more than half of all calls.
The other half of the calls came from a wide range of regions in prefectures
stretching from Hokkaido to Okinawa, providing a reconfirmation of
the fact that issues having to do with pets in collective housing
are not limited to major metropolitan areas, but are common to people
living in apartments and condominiums everywhere. The fact that the
average consultation time was as long as 30 minutes also served to
bring into bold relief the seriousness of these issues.
The topics of the consultation sessions can be divided into categories
as follows, in order of prevalence: questions related to the management
rule of the apartment, including questions on ongoing discussions
of whether to allow pets, questions on bylaws governing the raising
of pets, and setting up pet owners clubs (25%); miscellaneous
topics (24%); pet owners etiquettes (14%); problems arising
from violations of no-pet rules (14%); and questions on pet training
Consideration of the apartment management rule is crucial to keeping
pets in collective housing. In a great number of cases, revision of
the agreements and the need to clarify interpretations of vaguely-worded
agreements are the central issues around which problems arise. Looking
at the content of calls received at the consultation hotline reveals
that in many cases, revision of apartment management rules to allow
pets is currently under consideration. This makes clear just how steadily
pet ownership is taking root in collective housing.
We also received calls from residents who do
not own pets and want to have them banned from their housing complexes,
as well as from callers who were told when they purchased their property
that pets were allowed, only to find that keeping animals was in fact
forbidden all along. The second largest segment of callers -- the
24% categorized as miscellaneous -- represented situations so diverse
that they could not be lumped into a single characterization. This
can be taken as an indication of how difficult it is to generalize
about so many of these situations.
When disagreements arise out of varying interpretations
of vaguely worded rules, set up a time and opportunity to come together
Of the situations that did fit a common general description, the largest
number comprised the 25% related to apartment management rules. More
than a few collective housings have unclear rules about pets, with
such vague wording as Animals that cause harm shall not be kept
on the premises. Interpreting such imprecise wording is the
source of a great many problems because of the wide range of possible
interpretations of the same sentence.
We consulted on one recent case in which trouble arose between
fellow residents when the owner of a large dog moved into a building,
explains Dr. Yoshida. The owner noted that the dog could not
be considered an animal that causes harm, since it was
of a breed with a gentle disposition and had been thoroughly trained
to behave well. But the size of the dog meant that it could not be
carried in the owners arms, and some residents felt afraid when
passing by it in common areas of the property.
So opposing interpretations of the same vaguely worded rule
led to clashing opinions and the potential for an escalation of the
dispute. When that happens, the apartment management union association
has to be brought into the picture, and the problem grows into a major
issue for the entire building. We can see here how the defects in
an apartment or condominium building dont necessarily have to
be structural or hardware problems. In many cases, problems
arise in such software as the apartment management rule.
Naturally, pet owners should strive to ensure that their animals cause
no harm or nuisance, but we urge them to take this effort one step
further by encouraging the entire community of the building to come
together to consider measures such as revising the rules and creating
pet ownership bylaws.
Resort condominiums: where a diversity of lifestyles
calls for clarification of rules
Since a great many households use the resort condominium
complex on weekends, bringing pets to this facility has been implicitly
permitted. As the number of residents at resort condominium complexes
grows due to an increasing diversity of lifestyles, so does the number
of pets accompanying them. A case on trouble due to this trend was
consulted in the telephone consultations, and it appears likely that
this kind of problem will increase in collective housing facilities
at resort areas. Ms. Momoe Arima, Director of the Collective Housing
Management Union Association Center had the following advice on the
Tacit permission creates the worst conditions, she said.
The board member needs to discuss a revision of the rules that
could include official recognition of pet ownership. In doing so,
I advised them to find the cause of the trouble, listen carefully
to the opinions of those who would like to forbid pets, respond to
the reasons behind those opinions and come to a solution through discussion.
I told them that if they do this, Im sure that they will find
a way to revise the management rules.
Clarify pet owners responsibilities: noncompliance
by one pet owner can lead to a ban on pets for all
The importance of improving the etiquette of pet ownership
is not limited to the collective housing situation. It is crucial
to raising pets properly. In one case, a call was received from a
board member of the building management union association of a housing
complex. Problems were arising from a large number of complaints resulting
from the fact that pet owners were not complying with the rules.
People arent following the rules related to cat feces
and urine, the barking, or the requirement that pets be carried in
the arms in common areas, said Ms. Arima. In cases like
this, its very important to get pet owners together for a talk
so that they can be made to understand that if even one pet owner
fails to observe the rules, it will be necessary to ban pet ownership
for all. So I advised them to do what they can to make sure pet owners
realize that its essential for them to self-govern and regulate
their own behavior.
Form pet owners clubs to help and encourage
More than a few housing complexes have begun
moving toward revising their apartment management
rules, and many of the questions we received had to do with the necessary
know-how and methodology.
Of course it is of prime importance for each pet owner to individually
conduct the proper animal training and to exercise the necessary courtesies,
said Dr. Yoshida. But there is a limit to what one person alone
can do. When a number of people combine their knowledge and wisdom,
the possibilities increase. This is where our recommendation that
pet owners form clubs comes in. Since the purpose of establishing
such clubs is strictly to increase the potential for solutions, they
must not be allowed to devolve into cliques of pet owners or venues
for the showing off of their animals. My advice is that at the same
time as forming the pet club, the group file a request with the building
management union association that it forms a subcommittee on pet ownership
in order to promote understanding of the issue among those who do
not own pets.
Rather than continuing to force pet ownership
underground, form a pet club and work toward changing the rules
We also received calls from so-called underground pet
owners living in collective housing that ban pets. One such resident
called after receiving notice from the apartments management
union board members of intent to take punitive action for the violation.
Collective Housing Management Union Association Center Associate Director
Yukitoshi Shima had the following advice.
The board of administrators in a collective housing does have
the right to notify you of intent to take measures, but
they cannot force you to send your dog to the public health authorities
by a specified date, Mr. Shima said. You need to establish
a pet club together with the other pet owners, make an effort to improve
the courtesies practiced by those who keep animals, and work toward
achieving a general acceptance of pet ownership. The right way to
go about this effort is to take the time and expend the effort necessary
to revise the rules, rather than just seek a one-time compromise.
Seek understanding in rental units: candid
discussions bring underground pet ownership out of the
Other callers asked how to handle the problem of secret pet ownership
in apartment buildings in which the rental contract stipulates that
pets are not allowed.
In cases where trust between the tenant and landlord is judged
to have broken down entirely, cancellation of the rental contract
is permitted, said attorney Mr. Itsuro Ishii. However,
keeping an animal in spite of a clause in the contract forbidding
pets doesnt necessarily constitute a total breakdown of trust.
For instance, keeping a small bird or a goldfish generally causes
no problem at all. But what about cats? An examination of the case
law indicates that keeping cats is determined to constitute a breakdown
of trust when the owner is raising a large number of cats, or the
cats create a major nuisance for neighbors. There is no guarantee
that simply limiting the number of pets to a single cat will prevent
a judgment against the tenant, but I doubt there would be grounds
for a breakdown-of-trust ruling if the owner practices courtesy, trains
the animal thoroughly and avoids bothering neighbors. In any case,
my recommendation is to avoid keeping pets underground
and have a forthright discussion with the landlord about the situation,
including all the information Ive just mentioned.
Solving problems by talking them over is always
better than fighting in court
All the experts agree on this point: the laws involving problems having
to do with pets are in such a murky state that solving disputes through
discussion is currently far better than battling in court. Dr. Yoshida
handled a call from one pet owner who was eager to take the buildings
management union association to court for issuing an inflexible ban
on all pets.
Even in cases where the apartment management
rule includes a ban on pets, I still wouldnt recommend to either
the tenant or the management union association that they go to court,
Dr. Yoshida said. I told them that Id much prefer to see
them recognize the problem as soon as it crops up, think of a way
to handle it before it gets too big, and then go the extra mile to
prevent further trouble. By that I mean preventing future problems
that from escalating out of hand. And by forming a pet club, owners
can discuss improvements in standards of courtesy, enable those who
oppose pet ownership to air their views, and respond to those views.
Weve also had people express concerns about the possible
legal ramifications of a biting incident. Since every case is unique,
its difficult to make broad categorical statements on this subject,
but the fact is that the owner of a dog is responsible for any incident
caused by that dog. Preventing incidents is the most important thing,
but if something does happen, all the owner can do is respond in good
faith and try to gain the victims acceptance of the situation.
Accusing the bite victim of being in the wrong because my dog
isnt the kind that would bite someone is no way to achieve
Responding appropriately to problematic pet
behavior is essential take the pet to a specialist immediately
Many of the calls we received were from people seeking advice on what
to do about problematic pet behavior and methods of raising pets.
Barking and biting are problems that deserve close attention, since
they are the causes of a great deal of trouble.
Unwanted barking and biting behaviors can stem from the need
to establish dominance, express separation anxiety or other causes,
and can almost always be improved or eliminated altogether through
the proper response from the trainer, said Dr. Yoshie Kakuma,
Laboratory of Veterinary Ethology, Department of Animal Resource Science,
The University of Tokyo. The owner should take the dog to a
specialist as soon as the problematic behavior appears. There have
been cases in which neighbors suffered because the pet owner failed
to take the situation seriously. Of particular note are situations
in which a dog barks constantly out of separation anxiety due to being
left alone for long periods by an owner who, not being present, doesnt
realize there is a problem.
Raising pets indoors promotes health and communication
Many pet owners are apprehensive about raising their animals exclusively
indoors. One caller who kept a neutered cat that had always been allowed
to roam freely outside was concerned about the changes that would
have to occur when moving into a collective housing that allowed pets
to be kept indoors. The call was taken by Dr. Imoto, who also had
advice on keeping pet dogs indoors.
Begin keeping him exclusively indoors as soon as you move, and
let him grow accustomed to the new living space gradually. Cats are
animals that are perfectly capable of adapting to even small living
spaces, provided that you maintain the proper environment. Keeping
your cat exclusively indoors eliminates the danger of his contracting
an infectious disease or getting involved in a traffic accident.
It would also be a good idea to make some adjustments for the
cat. If he likes to perch in a relatively high position, or huddle
in narrow spaces, you might be able to create such spaces for him
by, say, placing a small box in the appropriate place for him. Living
indoors presents no particular problem for dogs either. In fact, it
may even be a better environment for the dog, since keeping the dog
indoors provides more opportunities for interaction with people than
keeping the dog in the yard. Its important to remember, however,
the importance of taking the dog for a walk, which is very important
to the animals health and provides opportunities for communication
with other dogs.
Proper management of contact with people allergic
to animals is crucial
Some people are against allowing pets in their buildings because of
allergies such as a hypersensitivity to cat hair. One caller said
that a person with an allergy to cats had recently moved into the
neighborhood, and wanted to know if there were any particular things
to keep in mind, although no problems had arisen yet.
Allergies are dealt with differently, depending on the degree
of severity, said Dr. Takakura. Allergies to cats can
be caused by things such as the cats hair, sloughed skin particles
and the bodies of dead fleas. In children, these allergies can develop
into asthma, which I think is another reason to keep cats entirely
indoors. Its also necessary to be relentless about hygiene --
take care to persistently clean up after your pet and keep the animal
itself clean and tidy. Use an air filtration appliance, and vacuum
the dog or cats mattress and air it out regularly. In other
words, taking proper care of your pets health is also a way
of showing consideration for people with allergies.
In situations where allergy sufferers and pet owners live in the same
communities, the nature of the relationships between the two can be
completely different, depending on whether one is able to express
consideration for the other. How much consideration can one show to
neighbors who dont keep pets? This is a major question that
pet owners must constantly be asking themselves.
According to Dr. Imoto, When one feels annoyed by the sound
of a barking dog, for example, and the owner cant be identified,
it reflects badly on all pet owners. But with a pet club in place,
the complaint can be properly heard, and immediate action becomes
possible. That sense of accountability alone can markedly improve
the way residents in general feel about pet ownership, and limit the
focus of the problem to the pet itself.
I have personal experience that bears this out. I firmly believe
that through conciliation with others, pet owners can help build community
and gain the trust of all the residents sharing that community. The
desire to keep a pet is in no way a strange or unusual demand, and
I think that apartment and condominium communities that succeed in
solving pet-related issues can achieve an ideal sense of community.
Through these consultations, we feel a true sense of having worked
toward solutions to the problems faced by all those involved in the
collective housing setting, including pet owners, apartment management
union associations, apartment management companies, and residents
who do not own pets. We at CAIRC would like to support all of these
groups as we work toward building a society in which humans and animals
can live together in greater harmony.
In collective housing, people with many different points of
view live together, said CAIRC Chairman Dr. Yoichi Shoda. Thus,
the same community may include people who dont like dogs at
all, as well as those who feel their dog is a member of the family.
It is these differences in ways of thinking and of feeling that gives
rise to problems. Thankfully, though, more and more communities are
finding ways in which people with different ways of thinking can live
In this process, it is very important for pet owners to form
pet clubs before problems lead to a standoff, and actively pursue
ways to be more courteous. They must listen carefully to the views
of those who do not have pets, and respond in good faith. When a person
becomes a pet owner, that person takes on a serious duty that includes
responsibility to the animal and to the community. Being a good pet
owner means being a good neighbor.
*The Conference on Pet Ownership in Collective
Housing is a group formed by the Japanese Society of Humane Care of
Animals, the Yokohama Veterinarians Association Practicing Veterinarians Section,
the Tokyo Society of Humane Care of Animals, the Japan Kennel Club,
the Japan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Japan
Animal Welfare Association, the Japan Pet Care Association, the Japan
Animal Hospital Association, the Japan Veterinary Pharmaceutical Association,
the Pet Food Industry Association, the Japan Pet Products Industry
Association and the Japan Federation of Animal Trainers Associations.