Police question actress Orna Banai after animal rights protest in Ashkelon
Actress Orna Banai was questioned yesterday at the Ashkelon police station on suspicion of assaulting a police officer, after she tried to enter the mayor's office to protest the municipal veterinarian putting down dogs.
Last week, the Channel 2 program "Kolbotek" ran a report claiming that Dr. Yoav Tzadok puts down dogs even when they have owners and microchip ID implants. The report led to protests by volunteers for Let the Animals Live, who called for Tzadok to be fired.
Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mehatzri held a meeting on the matter yesterday with officials from the Agriculture Ministry's veterinary service. Meanwhile, activists from Let the Animals Live organized a demonstration outside.
"Orna and I wanted to enter the mayor's office and hand him a letter," the group's founder, Etti Altman, said.
"The police officer wouldn't let us enter the elevator. Orna saw the staircase to the side and ran up to the fourth floor, with the rest of us following. She screamed at everyone that it is inconceivable for them not to let her wage a just battle. I cried and sat on the steps. Eventually the mayor received her, heard her out and promised to deal with the case. Afterward the police put us in a squad car, interrogated us and released us."
Altman added that the protest will continue until Tzadok is fired.
Kolbotek received its information from an employee in Ashkelon's municipal veterinary service, Hagai Ben-Chelouche, who told Haaretz that he received a layoff notice several days after the story aired.
He was transferred to the city's gardening department until the notice was to go into effect.
After Haaretz inquired about the matter, the mayor discussed it with officials from the government's veterinary service, and then decided to reinstate the whistleblower.
At Mehatzri's request, the Agriculture Ministry has appointed two senior officials to investigate the matter.
Mehatzri also has ordered that a municipal committee of inquiry be established immediately to look into Tzadok's conduct.
Lachish District police officials said yesterday that a complaint filed against Tzadok by Let Animals Live will be investigated.
According to Agriculture Ministry officials, Tzadok did not violate the Animal Welfare Law.
However they will investigate whether he breached regulations by failing to inform dog owners that their pets had been captured and would be put to sleep.