Cats-and-dogs in Israel

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2001:


JERUSALEM–Overshadowed by the ongoing strife between Palestinians and Jewish settlers on the west bank of the Jordan River, two trials now before Israeli courts have excited comparable discord among animal advocates.

In one case, a recent Soviet immigrant and a university lecturer are charged by Jerusalem authorities with illegally feeding feral cats. In the other, euthanasia technician Na’ama Bello has been charged by the no-kill animal sheltering and advocacy organization Let The Animals Live with illegally killing sick and/or severely injured cats–even though she was authorized to do so by both the Israeli health ministry and the veterinary services division of the agriculture ministry, according to Concern for Helping Animals in Israel founder Nina Natelson.

CHAI, which has also led the fight against strychnine poisoning of cats and dogs for animal control, is funding Bello’s defense. The Bello case is especially bitter because CHAI and Let The Animals Live have clashed before. Natelson accuses Let The Animals Live of hoarding animals in the name of sheltering, and of refusing to euthanize even animals who are in irremediable pain. Let The Animals Live in turn accuses Natelson of trying to export conventional U.S. perspectives on sheltering to Israel–although Natelson has told ANIMAL PEOPLE that her major objections to no-kill sheltering pertain to the specific circumstances of Israel, not to those of the more progressive parts of the U.S.

In Israel, Natelson says, problem #1 is that most of the nation lacks any form of humane animal control. If nonprofit shelters do not take in free-roaming animals and use lethal injection to kill those they cannot adopt out, she argues, civil servants will poison them. As the prosecution of cat-feeders in Jerusalem illustrates, there is little tolerance of homeless animals in Israel –which often frustrates the efforts of neuter/return advocates, like the members and supporters of another increasingly influential¬†activist group, the Israel Cat Welfare Society.
Problem #2, Natelson believes, is that the Israeli public is not yet informed enough about dog and cat care in general to distinguish a well-run shelter from a hoarding operation. Eastern European immigrants, in particular, tend to have no experience with anything between private hoarding, Natelson explains, and state-run skinning and rendering plants.

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