Clemency for Canines and Cats |

Criminal Critters May Get Option of House Arrest

Ministry of Agriculture proposes to allow dangerous pets to be held at home rather than being impounded.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
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City officials hope the new measures will impel owners to pick up after their pets.
City officials hope the new measures will impel owners to pick up after their pets.Credit: Daniel Bar On
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

Criminal critters may soon have the option of house arrest, rather than being automatically imprisoned after biting someone.

The Veterinary Services in the Agriculture Ministry recently proposed changing the policy requiring dogs and cats that bite people to be detained in a municipal facility after the incident. Pets can now be held at home and brought by their owners for municipal checkups.

“This will make it easier for the pets and their owners and will ease the pressure on local authority pounds without increasing the risk to the public,” said the committee’s chairman Dr. Boris Yakobson, who manages the rabies lab at the Veterinarian Services.

The proposal is based on the work of a committee commissioned by the Veterinary Services to examine its policies. The current policy requires the owner of a dog or cat that has bitten a person to bring the pet in within 24 hours of the incident. The purpose of the detention, which lasts 10 days, is to prevent further incidents and test the animal for rabies. The Veterinary Service's proposal will be brought before the Knesset for approval.

Last year, there were 29 rabies-related incidents in Israel. Rabies vaccines can be administered before or right after infection. But the disease is thought to be incurable and is almost always fatal in human and animals after symptoms appear.

While quarantining dogs and cats after an incident protects the public from potentially dangerous and rabid animals, the committee recommended changing the policy to ease the stress caused by detention to families and their pets. The committee included representatives of the Health Ministry, doctors and private and government veterinarians.

Under the new policy, after a biting incident, the offending cat or dog will be brought in for a preliminary examination by the municipal veterinarian, who will decide if home detention is appropriate. To qualify, the dog or cat not cannot have been in a rabies-infested area in the past three months, have been in contact with an animal suspected of being rabid in the past 45 days or show signs of rabies, including behavioral changes. The pet must also be tagged, registered and immunized.

During a 10-day observation period, the owner must prevent the pet from coming in contact with other animals, with the exception of other pets already in the home. Dogs are not allowed to go to parks or educational institutions. Cats are not allowed out of the house except to visit a vet. Pet owner are required to make a monetary deposit to ensure compliance with the policy.

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