Israeli Supreme Court rules on feral cats

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2004:

TEL AVIV–Recently retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice
Dalia Dorner, still ruling on cases she heard earlier, on June 3
ordered that the Israeli Agriculture Ministry Veterinary Service
“must establish more restrictive rules concerning the authority to
exterminate street cats,” reported Haaretz correspondent Yuval Yoaz
“The killing of street cats…must be the last step, taken
only when the public cannot be protected by other reasonable means,”
Dorner wrote, according to the Haaretz translation of the verdict,
rendered in Hebrew.
The verdict was affirmed by active Justices Aharon Barak and
Asher Grunis, but was promptly appealed. Concern for Helping
Animals in Israel founder Nina Natelson told ANIMAL PEOPLE that a
seven-judge panel would review the appeal within 30 days.
ANIMAL PEOPLE received widely varying interpretations of the
verdict from observers of the case and participants.
The case originated out of the four-year-old attempt of the
no-kill organizations Let The Animals Live and Cat Welfare Society of
Israel to prosecute veterinary technician Na’ama Adler-Blu and her
husband Eyal Blu for killing feral cats. The couple own a firm
called Magen Lahatul that captures and kills feral cats under
contract with the Agriculture Ministry Veterinary Service. The Tel
Aviv SPCA was also a defendant.

Na’ama Adler-Blu, backed by CHAI, counter-sued the
plaintiffs for libel . Natelson has repeatedly asserted to ANIMAL
PEOPLE that neuter/return of feral cats is not appropriate in Israel,
and that lethal injection as done by Adler-Blu is preferable to
poisoning with strychnine, ostensibly now illegal but still
reportedly practiced.
Natelson and Adler-Blue have also accused Let The Animals
Live and the Cat Welfare Society of Israel of financial
irregularities and violating animal care standards.
According to Natelson, “Na’ama was not found guilty of any
of the accusations and will now win her libel suit, plus non-vets
were given permission to receive training in euthanasia and to
euthanize animals.”
However, Natelson continued, “The court said a vet must be
present when the non-vet euthanizes, and that is not possible,
because municipal vets are not at the pound that often. The court
asked Veterinary Services to provide guidelines, not regulations,
as to when nuisance cats should be euthanized. This is also
problematic since Veterinary Services cannot possibly list every type
of instance that occurs.”
Cat advocate Abraham Agay told ANIMAL PEOPLE that, “The
court re-affirmed unanimously [a 1998 decision] that animals’ right
to live overrides the right of people to convenience and welfare.”
Rivi Myer, founder of the Cat Wel-fare Society of Israel,
called the verdict “A clear victory for neuter/return, which we have
followed and encouraged for 18 years.”
Wrote attorney Asah Marx, who represented the Cat Welfare
Society of Israel, “The Israeli Supreme Court decision is
precedental in that for the first time the court faced the argument
that cats cannot live in the street and rejected that claim. The
decision limits killing feral cats to situations endangering human
welfare. The court forbade the use of non-governmental people to
decide whether a cat should be killed. We expect that following this
judgement the killing of healthy cats will stop in Israel,” Marx
Attorney Karen Klar, representing Let The Animals Live,
told ANIMAL PEOPLE that “The Supreme Court ruled that killing is an
extreme solution and should only be done in case of real danger to
human health, under very specific guidelines that the Ministry of
Agriculture must compile within 30 days. The court said important
things about a feral cat’s right to life, including that mass
extermination of cats is not legal.”

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