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The following article appeared on Ynet, the internet edition of Yediot Acharonot, Israel's largest newspaper. The article describes a pro-animal lobby formed in the Knesset by Hakol Chai, the Israeli sister charity of Concern for Helping Animals in Israel (CHAI), www.chai-online.org. The purpose of the lobby is to promote pro-animal legislation.

The first bill to be introduced is a law that will provide for animals in disasters. CHAI/Hakol Chai was active in rescuing and rehoming animals during the disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza, and during the war this summer between Israel and Hezbollah. 40 of the puppies rescued during the war were brought to the U.S. to find homes here (see website for details and photos). Improving conditions in the municipal pounds, another issue of concern promoted by Hakol Chai/CHAI over the years, is also being discussed.

ynet – 29.11.06

"From today, animals also have Knesset representatives"

Animal lovers in Israel take the credit for another achievement: the establishment of the first animals' lobby in the Knesset. The first subject on its agenda was the sad situation in the authority and municipal quarantine facilities, most of which lack basic animal confinement conditions. "Dealing with the enclosures is essential and urgent," says MK Yoel Hasson, who leads the lobby. "Among others, we will expand the activity of volunteer organizations in these facilities."

"From today, animals also have a home in the Knesset. They are also citizens of Israel, and they also deserve representatives who will speak for them," announced MK Yoel Hasson, who inaugurated yesterday (Tuesday) the first animals' lobby in the history of the Hebrew parliament. The lobby, led by Hasson, was initiated by Hakol Chai, and among its members are MKs Dov Hanin, Moshe Cahalon, Michael Malkior and Kolet Avital.

The first meeting of the lobby was attended by dozens of representatives of societies acting for the protection of animals in Israel, along side Hasson, Hanin, and representatives of the Environment Ministry and Agriculture Ministry. The subject was the sad condition of dozens of municipal and authority quarantine facilities in Israel, run without regulated supervision. Most of them, as heard from the activists’ testimonies, lack basic confinement conditions for pet animals. In summer, they are subject to terrible heat, and in winter to freezing cold, and the cages are overcrowded with dogs and cats.

"It is essential to take care of the enclosures’ condition," says Hasson. "The fact is that there are quarantine facilities in Israel. But one has to improve the conditions in them. In addition to the harsh physical conditions, they also lack humanity. Many of the people working there do not act out of love and compassion for the animals. One of the ways to change the situation is to expand the connection between the volunteer organizations and the enclosures, and to allow them to operate there freely."

"Terrible descriptions of the enclosures’ situation"

"The establishment of the lobby is an essential move," says Adv. Yadin Elam, the director of Hakol Chai. "Until today, animal protection did not receive its proper expression in the Knesset, and it amounted to the random activity of some MKs who care. But this is an important issue, relevant to large parts of the population, not only pet owners, but everyone who believes that animals should be treated with dignity and compassion, and that their treatment should be changed. The sad condition of the pounds is only one example of the terrible treatment animals get in Israel. Precisely where the authority has to act as a role model, in taking care of the animals’ well being, it treats them worse than the citizens themselves do.

We received horrible descriptions of the conditions of the enclosures. In some of them, puppies are kept in freezing nights on cold concrete. Dogs are stolen by felons and find themselves in cruel battles. In many of them, dogs are doomed to live in crowded cages until their death. In some of the facilities, the conditions are shameful and disgraceful, but the caring staff is loyal, as for example in the Dimona quarantine facility. In some of the facilities, the conditions are relatively good, but the staff is not qualified to take care of animals, and is indifferent to their suffering. Only in a few quarantine facilities, such as the dog kennel in Rishon Lezion, whose municipal veterinarian, Yonathan Even Zur, is supported by the mayor, physical conditions are excellent and the staff is caring and professional."

What is the solution?

"The Ministry of Interior, which budgets the authorities in charge of the veterinary services in their area, has to transfer to them budgets that will be agreed upon in advance. In addition, the manner by which quarantine operators are appointed – currently by the discretion of heads of local councils – has to be changed. For example, a head of a local council could decide to appoint a certain operator, who has no qualifications or even the right attitude towards animals. The solution is to assign the responsibility for the selection of the authority's veterinarian and the quarantine facilities' operators to the Veterinary Services and the Environment Ministry, whose function is to protect the animals in Israel."

"I always had animals around me, and I love them," sums Hasson. "When I entered the Knesset, I was certain that it deals with this issue, but I was surprised to find out that there is no group in it that takes care of their well being. The new lobby will try to change this situation. Maybe in addition to dealing with the condition of the quarantine facilities, one of the first tasks will be to change the name of the ‘Law Against Cruelty Towards Animals’ to ‘Animals’ Rights.’ Indeed, this is a semantic change, but it expresses our commitment to protect them."

Picture caption:

Small picture –

"We will introduce humanity in the enclosures" – MK Yoel Hasson

Large picture –

"Harsh physical conditions". Dogs in quarantine
 

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