Hannah Mullins holds her 8-month-old Chihuahua, Sachi, in her tower apartment at Misawa Air Base, Japan. A new, six-month interim housing policy allows cats and dogs in three north area towers.

Hannah Mullins holds her 8-month-old Chihuahua, Sachi, in her tower apartment at Misawa Air Base, Japan. A new, six-month interim housing policy allows cats and dogs in three north area towers. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — The newest addition to the Mullins family is a trailblazer.

Sachi, an 8-month-old Chihuahua, is among the first batch of dogs living in apartment-style base housing.

The new interim housing policy, which also allows for cats, was implemented in February for three north-side towers: 1935 (officer and civilian quarters); 1936 (senior noncommissioned officer quarters); and 1939 (junior noncommissioned officer quarters).

The initiative is designed to improve quality of life — for man, not beast.

Annette Henry, chief of housing facilities at Misawa, said pet owners often had to move off base because H-style housing — where dogs and cats are authorized — was not available.

For some families, living off base was inconvenient, especially those with school-age kids or one car per household, Henry said in a written response to questions.

Also, when a military member deploys, the spouse left behind “now can enjoy the companionship of a pet while they are alone,” she said.

Air Force spouse Hannah Mullins was thrilled with the change.

Sachi became part of the family in February, soon after the pet policy was approved, she said.

“It’s nice having a little companion,” Mullins said, sitting on her sofa with Sachi in her lap. “When my husband and son go to bed, I hang out with the dog and he’s fun to play with.”

The Mullins already had birds — one of several animals, such as fish and hamsters, already permitted in the towers.

Dogs require a bit more care, but Mullins said Sachi is low-maintenance, despite his high energy.

“The only thing they (housing) require is basically just to keep it clean,” Mullins said of her apartment.

The one disadvantage to tower living — the Mullinses live eight floors up — is the long ride on the elevator to get outside.

“You can’t just let them go out,” Mullins said.

Mullins often lets Sachi roam in the gated dog run near her tower.

Housing officials didn’t say how many dogs and cats are living in the towers. Mullins said she knows of at least two other dogs in the building. The housing office has received one complaint about the pet policy, Henry said, though she didn’t say what it was about.

The policy will be evaluated in six months as officials determine whether to make the policy permanent.

At this time, however, housing residents may not request to move into pet towers, Henry said. Only occupants already in the designated pet towers can take advantage of the policy.

“Until the initiative becomes permanent, requests to move into a pet tower will have to wait,” Henry wrote.

Pet policy guidelines

Some things to know about Misawa’s pet policy for tower housing:

All pets must be brought to the base veterinarian clinic for registration within three days of arrival or acquisition. Aquarium fish, small caged rodents, small caged amphibians and reptiles, and caged birds are exempt.Occupants are authorized a maximum of two pets (except fish).Pets permitted: Birds, nonpoisonous fish and frogs, crabs, snails, turtles, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, white mice, and in Towers 1935, 1936 and 1939, dogs and cats.Pets prohibited: Farm, ranch or wild or exotic animals.Keep noise, such as excessive barking, to a minimum, especially during quiet hours, 10 a.m. to 6 a.m.Noise complaints, unsanitary areas, lack of proper care, pets running loose and damage to lawn or buildings should be reported to the Housing Office at DSN 226-3200.Keep a pet’s area inside apartment and tower hallways and elevators clean.Dogs must be leashed at all times. They may roam supervised in dog runs next to tower 1936.Source: Misawa Air Base housing office

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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