Israeli Court Sentences Man to 13 Months in Prison for Stabbing Dog

Judge sets harshest penalty for animal abuse in Israel, including seven-month suspended sentence for previous violent behavior.

Dogs
David Bachar

An Israeli court Wednesday sentenced a man to 13 months in prison for stabbing his neighbor’s dog. This is one of the harshest sentences an Israeli court has ever imposed for animal abuse.

The incident took place in June, when Tel Mond resident David Shmuel entered a doghouse in the stairway of his apartment building and stabbed the dog, which was tied up at the time and posed no danger to him. Shmuel then left the dog there wallowing in his own blood. The dog survived, but required a series of operations.

Shmuel confessed to the crime and expressed regret, saying he stabbed the dog because the animal had previously attacked his mother and several other people. He was convicted of both animal abuse and trespassing.

The prosecution sought a two-year sentence, arguing that the egregious nature of the attack justified it. The maximum sentence specified in the law against animal abuse is three years.

Shmuel’s attorney objected that even people who stab other people often get lighter sentences than the prosecution sought, while animal abusers normally get much lighter sentences.

The Netanya Magistrate’s Court ultimately decided on a six-month sentence. However, the court also decided to activate a seven-month suspended sentence Shmuel had received for a previous violent crime, bringing the total sentence to 13 months. In addition, it ordered him to pay 7,000 shekels ($1,800) in fines and compensation.

The court said that both the severity of the offense and Shmuel’s lengthy criminal record justified actual prison time.

“Just as we must express revulsion at the stabbing of a human being, we should express revulsion at the stabbing of an animal when it isn’t a clear case of self-defense,” Judge Oz Ezra Nir wrote. “This is doubly true given that the dog which is the subject of the indictment was tied inside a building, did not constitute a danger to anyone and was even abandoned at the scene to wallow in his own blood.”

Moreover, Nir said, Shmuel also committed the crime of trespassing while carrying a weapon, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of four years. That made the incident more serious than a case of animal abuse alone.

Shmuel failed to prove his claim that the dog had previously attacked other people, Nir wrote. “But even if it were true, there is no justification for the act the defendant committed,” he concluded.