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Yes, Japan has ‘retirement’ homes for elderly pets

“Japan now has retirement homes for senior dogs, so they can get the adequate love and care during their final years,” claims a graphic shared on Facebook in South Africa.

The graphic was originally posted by the Facebook page Strange but true facts – but is it one?

It was flagged as potentially false by the platform’s fact-checking system, so we investigated.

2013 law says owners must look after ageing pets

According to an August 2019 report by the British Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC, a growing number of pet homes have opened to “give elderly and sick pets the love and attention their human carers no longer can” in Japan’s capital, Tokyo.

The BBC video says a 2013 change in Japanese law means owners are obliged to look after ageing pets until the end of their lives. 

The law says the “owner of an animal shall endeavour to care for the animal he/she owns through its lifetime ... as much as possible, within the extent that does not impede the attainment of the purpose of the care and keeping of the animal”. 

According to the BBC, this has helped boost demand for "pet retirement" services, particularly for ageing owners who are no longer able to look after their pets, or who themselves have moved into old-age homes that don’t allow pets. 

Demand has grown since 2014 luxury nursing home

In 2014, the Huffington Post reported that a Japanese company had opened a luxury nursing home for elderly animals, called Aeonpet. Here the bill could rack up to US$1,000 a month. 

According to a NBC News report from 2014, services included an hourly room temperature check and webcams so owners of the animals could look in on their pets day and night. 

But the Japanese media has more recently reported on the rise of homes for elderly pets. As Japan’s human population ages, with more than 20% of people over 65 years old, demand for facilities that care for elderly animals is also likely to grow. Taryn Willows


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