Busy lives and hectic schedules keep many pet owners from caring for their elderly or sick pets. As with a sick child, many owners wrestle with the idea of leaving their pets alone while they're at work. In Japan, owners of aging pets now have an alternative in the form of the Soladi Care Home for Pets, which opened in June 2007 in Tochigi, Japan. Most residents are 13 human years or older. Staffed with a 24-hour-a day veterinarian who offers daily health monitoring, the home also provides a full menu of treats that will have most pets licking their chops. The home charges $800 per month and accepts 20 dogs at a time. The nursing home's director Takao Kanai said in reports that the older dogs have social time with puppies to provide stimulation and some fun. The interaction could also give senile dogs a reminder of how to behave. The concept is the same as a nursing home for aging people. The pets get visits from the families they lived with and are surrounded by other pets at a similar stage of life. While pet nursing homes might work in Japan, where the low human birth rate has sparked a high interest in pet ownership, the idea still hasn't crossed U.S. borders. In 2003, the number of pet cats and dogs surpassed the total number of children aged 15 and below in Japan. Pets are also living longer due to better health care and nutrition. Cost of care is a major barrier for some American pet owners. One beagle owner said that if her pet developed a chronic disease like cancer, she would pay to have the tumors removed, but would draw the line at chemotherapy, which could run as high as $20,000 per treatment. For people with pets who have an ailment that requires more attention than they can offer, a pet retirement home may be the answer, but the average pet owner would likely weigh the cost of care very carefully. "If Kiwi developed diabetes requiring daily shots, I would have to consider putting her to sleep," said the beagle owner. Dogs nearing death at Soladi Home Care are transferred to a larger separate suite where owners can spend time with the pet until they take their final breath. A chapel of rest is adjacent to the main building. While this new concept has not hit the U.S. yet, the Soladi Company, in partnership with the Endo Veterinary Clinic, are forging ahead with plans to build seven more pet nursing homes across Japan in the next three years. Find this article interesting? Check out our Tips and Treats section.