Cats & dogs in Israel

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2001:

The May 2001 article “Cats & dogs in Israel,” summarized two ongoing Israeli court cases involving feral cat rescue. It drew more response than any other single item ever published in ANIMAL PEOPLE. This is a representative selection. Please note the often directly conflicting claims and perspectives of the letter-writers.

“Very simple”

The case against Na’ama Bello is really very simple: she is owner of an illegal cat-killing company. I can personally testify that Bello, together with municipal Animal Control, trapped and killed perfectly healthy cats in Jerusalem who had good caretakers. While Bello is on trial, the Israeli Police also recommended that her husband be indicted as well, for his part in the operation.

The simultaneous trial of the feral cat feeders in Jerusalem is a desperate attempt of local Animal Control to stop Hebrew University from starting a neuter/return project. Throughout Israel, probably only Jerusalem has an anti-feeding bylaw, and it was long unenforced.

Of course some people are unsatisfied with the advent of neuter/return. The Tel-Aviv SPCA, which lost its animal control contract when Tel-Aviv adopted neuter/return, is now trying to discredit the method. CHAI is a close ally of the Tel-Aviv SPCA.

–Abraham Agay
Computing Center, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Tel Aviv, Eliat

CHAI and Nina Natelson, assisting the defense of Na’ama Bello-Adler, has repeatedly accused one of the prosecuting societies, Let The Animals Live, of refusing to euthanize even animals who are in irremediable pain. Let The Animals Live employs a veterinarian who routinely euthanizes animals who are in pain and beyond redemption.

Natelson says, “If nonprofit shelters do not take in free-roaming animals and use lethal injection to kill those they cannot adopt out, civil servants will poison them.” However, Tel Aviv, the largest center of both human and feral cat population in Israel, has had a strict no-kill animal control policy for the past five years. Poisoning is now rare in Israel as well, except for executions carried out by individuals such as Na’ama Bello Adler.

One of the only mass exterminations of feral animals that I can recall was recently promoted by CHAI in the city of Eilat. The city endorsed the job, but would not have done it alone. Nearly 500 dogs were killed.

–Ido Dovrath
Tel Aviv, Israel
Alleges fraud

In my opinion, the campaign orchestrated by Let The Animals Live against me was motivated by revenge, because I have alleged that LAL is a profitable business, not a charity. At their “shelter”, which is off-limits to the public, animals are kept in terrible conditions, suffer greatly and die needlessly. They turn away animals in bad condition.

Let The Animals Live supporters knowingly misstate the facts when they claim that I poison animals. I was trained by a knowledgeable veterinarian and have never euthanized an animal except by injection of sodium pentobarbital, exactly as animals are euthanized at shelters all over the U.S. I have also rescued and found homes for countless animals, in many cases paying for their veterinary and rehabilitation costs myself.

In my Supreme Court case, I am asking that non-vets like myself be allowed to be trained and authorized to put suffering animals out of their misery. Veterinarians are frequently not available evenings, weekends and holidays to put down animals hit by cars or animals wounded in fights or those dying slowly from diseases. Some vets in Israel only know how to poison animals or how to inject sodium pentobarbital in the heart, which is inhumane. As in the U.S., there should be trained technicians all over Israel who are able to put suffering animals out of their misery at all hours of the day and night. This is what I am fighting for and have spent thousands of dollars of my own money to achieve.

–Na’ama Bello, Magen le Chatul
Cat Welfare Society

As you know I have been fighting massive cat poisoning in Arad and replacing it with neuter/return. At one point Nina Natelson of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel wrote to the city stating that neuter/ return is cruel and offering to supply the drugs needed to trap and kill as many cats as possible. She sent similar letters to other cities where neuter/return was being considered.

About two years ago an Israel TV documentary described how a private detective who is an animal lover, after receiving numerous complaints, followed Na’ama Bello, who was receiving money for rehoming cats. She would accept the money and the cats, take the cats to her van, kill them with narcotics, and dump the bodies. The detective took the bodies of five cats for necropsies which proved that the cats had been healthy.

As a result of the broadcast, Bello is on trial for cruelty. The justice and environment ministries oppose what she is doing. The ministry of agriculture supports her. Nina Natelson pays her legal fees, through CHAI. I suspect that many CHAI donors do not know how opposed to neuter/return Natelson is–but she has answered our every attempt to seek support abroad with letters misrepresenting our projects and the condition of the animals in our care. The World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Royal SPCA have checked our shelter and our projects, and have verified that they are up to par.

Incidentally, contrary to Bello-Adler’s assertions, the Let The Animals Live shelter is open to the public, with regualar hours and special adoption days. I have been there myself. It is clean and well run. It may have been a bit overcrowded but I did not see any animals suffering. I wish you could visit them and see the situation for yourself. In the past they have had some difficulties–but they continue to receive money from the ministry of the environment, which would not support a corrupt organization.

–Ellen Moshenberg
Cat Welfare Society of Israel, Moshav Gan-Haim, Israel
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Jerusalem SPCA

Israel is a small country with major problems which do not allow animal welfare to be a major focus of public debate. Yet there is much concern for animals in Israel and the no-kill movement has begun to gather momentum. Veterinary medicine in this country is up to western standards.
If I could credit only two organizations for the recent improvement in the status of animals, it would be Let The Animals Live and the Cat Welfare Society. For the record, I would like to point out that these two organizations are not the only ones opposed to actions taken by Naama Bello. Nearly two dozen Israeli animal welfare organizations are on record against her policies and mode of operation.
–Jacqueline Hahn-Efrati, Jerusalem SPCA
P.O. Box 4009, Jerusalem, Israel
Phone: 972-2-585-1531
Fax: 972-2-585-4465
CHAI responds

Concerning your May article “Cats and Dogs in Israel”: CHAI did not accuse Let The Animals Live of not euthanizing at their facility, but rather of opposing euthanasia of suffering strays. Nor did CHAI single out Eastern European immigrants as less knowledgeable about animal welfare than others. Most shelters and pounds in Israel are badly run, regardless of who manages them.

CHAI’s support of Na’ama Bello-Adler in her court cases focuses on establishing that non-vets can receive euthanasia training and act in the absence of a vet, as in the U.S. and elsewhere. Municipal vets in some areas still poison animals with strychnine. Anti-euthanasia activists deceive by equating this with authentic euthanasia.

CHAI gave no help, financial or otherwise, to the city of Eliat and the Israeli volunteers who caught hundreds of stray dogs in bad condition over several days–an indication of the severity of the situation. The dogs were euthanized by the municipal vet, using sodium pentobarbital.
CHAI promotes humane, responsible practices and is donating a mobile spay/neuter clinic to Israel, but it will be decades before euthanasia will be unnecessary. Until then, providing euthanasia training for non-vets is an essential part of humane animal control.

–Nina Natelson, Concern For Helping Animals in Israel
P.O. Box 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302
Phone: 703-658-9650
Fax: 703-941-6132
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