Citizens for Municipal Pound Animals

Israel’s municipal pounds are under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture veterinary services. They hold mainly dogs and abandoned cats, who have lost their homes, were abandoned by their owners, or were suspected to have bitten someone.

gilboa dog

There have been many articles published in the media describing the horrific living conditions in many of the local pounds, conditions which cause great suffering to the animals kept there. Moreover, the media has lately exposed suspicions of horrendous acts of abuse committed by municipal veterinarians to the animals under their supervision.

The case of Dr. Or, the Tiberias municipal veterinarian who was suspected to have abused animals under his care, reached the Nazareth magistrate’s court. During this process, he was denied access to the local pounds.

It is important to note that in Israel the Animal Welfare law was legislated (Protection of Animals) in 1994. This law forbids cruelty to animals, and allows persons suspected of such acts to be put on trial. Any person found guilty would then either face incarceration or be forced to pay a fine. Enforcement of this law has been very limited until now, especially in cases involving municipal veterinarians. This issue was covered in the Ha`aretz newspaper in the article, "Limited Enforcement of the Law".

In addition, Noah (The Israeli Association of Organizations for Animals) recently exposed limitations to this law with regard to the Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry had applied to the government deputy legal adviser to prevent the brining to trial of municipal veterinarians or their employees for performing alleged criminal offenses under the Animal Welfare law (Protection of Animals).

It is our concern that this policy will further reduce enforcement of animal welfare regulations on district veterinarians, as it places the Ministry of Agriculture in a conflict of interests. The Ministry is obligated to make decisions concerning investigation of its workers, and bringing them to trial. In most other cases, however, this responsibility is assumed by the police and the legal advocacy. Therefore, this policy somewhat protects district veterinarians from facing trial.

The protection policy question was also discussed in February 2007 by the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee, headed by Member of Knesset Michael Malchior. The protocol of this discussion clearly indicates that a policy aiming to diminish the police's authority to bring veterinarians suspected of breaking the Animal Welfare Law to trial is indeed being affected.

We, a group of individuals, are taking action for improving the welfare of animals being held in district pounds. We speak against the acceptance of this policy, which may provide protect district veterinarians suspected with abuse a protection from trial.

We request that all dog and cat owners, other animal lovers and ethical human beings, will join and support our struggle. Please sign the petition calling for an end to this policy of protection, and assist us in any other way that you can.

Help us demonstrate that the general public is not willing to accept the abuse of helpless animals.