The Japan Kennel Club (JKC) is an incorporated association that was founded for the purposes of improving the quality of dogs, establishing and expanding dog breeding procedures, and enhancing the spirit of animal welfare. In addition to being Japan’s largest organization of dog lovers, the JKC functions as the country’s primary registry body for purebred dog pedigrees and as an organizer of exhibitions and competitions, and as a member organization of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI), it also focuses its energies on promoting international exchanges and cooperation through dogs. The FCI recognizes 342 breeds of dog, each of which has been given its own standard that can be used as a breeding guideline for the breed in question. Moreover, the JKC stages exhibitions and competitions throughout the nation. These events serve as opportunities to conduct dog breed evaluations based on these standards.
Recently, the standards governing some dog breeds have been drawing criticism as a form of animal abuse. The need for further verification of these standards is therefore now being considered. As an organization with many members who are professionals in the improvement and breeding of different dog breeds, we have an obligation to provide dog-lovers throughout the nation with healthy and high-quality dogs.
I believe the present conference is a very timely occasion for us to be holding a workshop on the theme of improved co-existence between people and dogs and better man to animal relationships.
As speakers, we have invited Professor Uchiyama, Professor Hayashi, Dr. Murata and Mr. Ishiyama each of whom is a leading authority in their respective field. I would like to conclude my message by voicing the sincere hope that many dog lovers throughout the nation will participate in this conference.
The relationship between human beings and wolves began more than 300 thousand years ago when Neanderthals were living on Earth. We already had a certain relationship with the wolf, ancestor of our modern-day dogs, even before the first early-modern humans, the Cro-Magnon, appeared. The animal we can define as “a dog” was produced about 15 thousand years ago and, since then, the dog has worked for humans, helping them hunt and guarding them from enemies. When we consider the path of dog evolution, it may be axiomatic that “a dog” should become a family member, as it has become in present times.
For the better future, on the other hand, humans would start to think about new partnership with dogs. For instant, the Act on Protection and Management of Animals, which was established in 1973, was revised twice, in 1999 and 2005. In 1973, under the law all animals were regarded as “things”, not “lives”. However, in 1999 the fundamental principle of the revised Act (renamed to the Act on Welfare and Management of Animals) was explicitly stated as follows: “Recognizing that animals are living beings, no person shall kill, injure, or inflict cruelty on animals unnecessarily, and when keeping animals, every person shall fully understand their habits and give them proper care so that people and animals can live together.” This Act could really be compared to those of Western countries. However, there are still many points that are inadequate.
In the United Kingdom almost every family with a new dog attend ‘Dog School’ to learn the proper way to look after their animal. In the Western countries, dogs have come to play an important role in supporting human health, both physical and mental, an example being ‘animal-assisted therapy’. In addition, most of the ‘civilized’ countries follow a rule that “separating a puppy from its mother is prohibited before 8 weeks following birth”. This set of conditions is very different to Japan. So, as a people, we must ask ourselves “Why is this so?”.
In this Workshop 9 we must take our first steps to improve the situation in Japan, and build a true partnership between humans and dogs.
Since the 1970s, some very interesting research developed in the field of Animal-assisted Activities and Therapy (AAA/AAT) in western countries. For example, in 1980 Friedmann, et al. demonstrated that human patients suffering from heart disease survived longer (by one more year) if they had a dog companion compared to patients without dogs. This means that living with a dog reduces stress in people on a daily basis. In 1997 Hart recommended that elderly people keep pets in order to better develop their social contact, identity, and motivation for life. In 1990, Siegel reported distinct evidence that elderly people over 70 years old who keep a dog tend to make fewer visits to the hospital. These findings have led to the US National Institute of Health allowing medical doctors to prescribe pet-keeping as an alternative to drugs.
The effects of animals on human physical and mental health have been known since the 1950s and from the Olympic achievements of Liz Hartel from Denmark. Despite suffering from polio since 1943 she won a medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games in the dressage event. Ever since, the idea of rehabilitation through horse riding successfully made its way around the community of therapists. At the 12th Conference of IAHAIO held in Stockholm, July 2010, it was reported that about 17% of hospitals in Germany are using AAT as medical treatment and that more than 90% of medical staffs are convinced that AAT has useful effects. However, there has been an alarming difference in acceptance between western countries and Japan.
So why has AAT in Japan never developed? There are probably several reasons including a difference in national traits, the lack of opportunities for medical practitioners to witness the real effects of AAT, and absence of professional individuals that coordinate in both medical and animal fields. However, the most likely reason is that there has been no scientific evidence for the effects of animals on human health. So at this symposium I intend to discuss the mechanisms behind AAT.
The Subcommittee to study the welfare and management of animals, set up under the Animal Welfare Working Group of Japan’s Ministry of the Environment’s Central Environmental Council, met 25 times between August 2010 and December 2011. The Subcommittee compiled a report summarizing the discussions held during the 17 month period to the Animal Welfare Working Group.
The passing of the Act on Animal Welfare and Management (Animal Welfare Act), as well as its two revisions, was initiated by lawmakers. Although it was once rumored that the third revision would be submitted by the Cabinet, it will likely be submitted as another lawmaker-initiated bill.
What has been different about this revision (compared to the previous ones) is that the Subcommittee discussions have drawn much attention from the public. More than 120,000 public comments were submitted regarding the interim summary from the first half of the discussions and more than 50,000 regarding the summary of the latter half. The significance of these figures, however, should be treated with some caution because those people who are supportive of the proposed revision are more likely to express an opinion than those who favor maintaining the status quo. The latter tend to show less interest in revision drafts.
The major focus of the discussions concerned the appropriate handling of animals by animal related businesses. The subcommittee recommended strengthening the regulations governing the display of animals late at night, mobile pet shops, and the selling of animals by auction. Regarding the age at which baby animals can be separated from their parents, the subcommittee could not reach an agreement and decided to submit three different viewpoints in their report (namely, at 45 day old, 7 weeks old, and 8 weeks old). Additional topics discussed appropriate animal feeding facilities, further animal handling business categories, and others. The summary of the discussions can be found on the website of Japan’s Ministry of the Environment.
As the Chair of the Subcommittee, I am acutely aware that there is not enough scientific data that we can apply to all kinds of dogs. Like humans, dogs have great individuality and one standard approach cannot cover all kinds of dog. It will therefore be necessary to establish a certain standard based on, not only scientific data, but also on specific examples.
In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on various kinds of mental illness. In today’s complex society, people are subject to a high incidence of adjustment disorders that may prevent them from fitting in comfortably at work or school. Meanwhile, the pet animals that live in human society are forced to conform to a world defined by a totally different sense of values than they would follow naturally in the wild. Indeed, completely natural behavior exhibited by pet animals is often found to be totally unacceptable in human society.
I have been counseling people about the problematic behavior of pets for many years, and during that time I have found that in a great many cases, dog owners tend to personalize their dogs and impose their own style of discipline. As such they often make problems worse after being swayed by inappropriate advice and incorrect information. Also, I have noticed that if there is a lack of socialization at the time when a dog is a young puppy then this can result in problems later on.
Puppies that grow up without the opportunity to receive sufficient training and that subsequently have to adjust to living in human society undergo a variety of stresses. In order for them to live happily in human society, they need to build up a relationship of mutual trust with their owners. They should also be made to master sociability during their puppy period, while they are still highly adaptable.
Compared with treating adult dogs that exhibit problematic behavior, preventing problematic behavior during the puppy period produces major results with much less effort. Also, the treatment of problematic behavior in adult dogs requires a lot of patience whereas, by contrast, training puppies is a pleasant task and the animals’ progress clearly perceivable on a daily basis. Puppies have very flexible minds, and they learn appropriate behavior very quickly.
I have coined the term “mind vaccine” to describe this kind of training in order to prevent problematic behavior and enable pets and their owners to live together pleasantly and happily. A dog that is healthy and happy both mentally and physically will lighten its owner’s heart and it will also gain the willing acceptance of the people surrounding it.
In the same way as a vaccine can prevent the development of an infectious disease, if dogs can be inoculated with a mind vaccine at a veterinary hospital, this will increase the number of happy owners and dogs and consequently decrease the number of unhappy dogs.
I have been working in the pet food industry for 29 years. In the course of my work for a multinational company, I have visited more than 30 countries to attend conferences, etc. It may seem surprising to have to visit so many places but, as there are around 700 million pet dogs and cats around the world, and as our company is active worldwide, it is important to understand the situation for pets in different countries. In Japan of the 1980s, the pet food industry began to flourish and our company introduced products that had proven successful internationally for the new market. Nevertheless, we did face a number of cultural differences.
In spite of the fact that around the world there is a great variety of dog breeds, why is it that only a relatively few varieties are popular in Japan and other Asian countries? It seems that most of the dog breeds kept in Japan since ancient times are similar in appearance to the small Shiba. So I asked myself ‘how could this difference from the West have arisen’? To answer this question, I paid frequent visits to museums and art galleries around the world. Within just a few hours of looking at museum collections we can see a fascinating history of how human beings have changed over the course of several thousand years. This teaches us something about the lives people led in different periods. For instance, if you view English portraits of aristocratic families that were painted between the 17th century and the present era, you are almost certain to see one or more dogs at their feet. However, if you look at Japanese pictures that depict deer or boar hunting from the Kamakura Period, there are almost no examples that show the essential features of dogs.
I suggest this is due to a difference between Japan (and the Asian region) on the one hand, where dogs were not so necessary for agricultural life and Europe, on the other, where they were absolutely essential for activities such as hunting. I have come to think that, in Japan, where working dogs are less important, the expression “favorite dog” is more appropriate than “pet”. In the Japanese language, the number of adjectives, adverbs and verbs for expressing static or dynamic situations is extremely small. Of course, the English language, with its wider range of word origins, has a far larger vocabulary. But even so, it may be that the a word such as “hunting”, which conveys the situation vividly and requires further clarity only in terms of role-sharing, season and location, compares differently to a word like “agriculture”, which is not required to convey a dynamic situation or role-sharing. Through my work in the pet industry I have felt that this kind of cultural difference has led to the development of such linguistic differences.
I look forward to participating in the panel discussion by commenting on the different pet situations in various countries.