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McClatchy Information Services, Published December 19 2011

Hot Topic: Bedtime enforced for pets in Japan

You’ve heard of curfews for teens. But what about for pets?

The Japanese Environment Ministry will prohibit pet shops from displaying and selling puppies and kittens after 8 p.m., because lack of sleep is harmful to young animals’ health, sources said.

Some pet shops in the busy commercial districts of large cities remain open even after midnight to attract women who drop by on their way home after working at eating and drinking establishments.

However, the puppies and kittens kept in glass showcases at such shops are likely to have health problems since they can’t sleep well due to the shops’ lighting and the neon outside. Their sleep can also be interrupted by drunken people who come in.

At 1 a.m. recently, the inside of a pet shop on a busy Tokyo shopping street was lit with fluorescent lights, and red and purple neon light came in from outside. Of about 30 puppies and kittens in glass cases near a display window, only five were asleep.

At the Wan Nyan Park 24, a pet shop-cum-pet hotel in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, a curtain on a display window was pulled down at midnight to help dogs sleep. The lights inside cases containing six puppies, including a chihuahua and a poodle, were turned off.

Manager Yuichi Kawashima, 33, said there was need to stay open late.

“At night, we have female customers who work at eating and drinking establishments and also foreign customers,” Kawashima said.

Experts say puppies and kittens need at least 12 hours of sleep a day for healthy growth. If their sleep is interrupted by bright light or people knocking on display windows, they become prone to illness or agitation.

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo), Distributed by MCT Information Services