Only 17 Percent of Israel Police Probes Into Alleged Animal Cruelty End in Indictments

Small figure still constitutes improvement over recent years; police treat complainants as nuisance, Labor lawmaker accuses.

Dogs
David Bachar

Only 77 of 463 police investigations into alleged cruelty to animals (17 percent) resulted in indictments in 2015, according to police statistics. 

This, however, constitutes an improvement over recent years. In 2014 only 8 percent of police investigations led to indictments, while in 2013 it was 9 percent.

The number of investigations rose 11 percent last year. Half of the investigations were launched into the killing or maiming of animals, 45 percent involved animal abuse, while 5 percent were alleged violations of the law against poisoning animals. Two of every three cases opened in 2015 were closed - 52 percent because the violator couldn’t be identified, 22 percent for lack of public interest, and 20 percent for lack of evidence.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan submitted the data in response to a parliamentary query by the chairman of the Knesset caucus for animal rights, Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union). “If every third case of animal abuse is closed for lack of public interest and 75 percent are closed for lack of evidence it shows that cruelty to animal violations apparently don’t interest the police, who often treat those who report them like a nuisance,” said Shmuli. 

“After we passed my law that imposed stricter punishment on animal abusers there’s no doubt that the main breach remains a lack of enforcement,” Shmuli said. “The caucus asked the incoming police commissioner for a meeting to ascertain whether the issue will be reflected in the police’s priorities, but to be honest we haven’t even gotten a response.”

Two months ago the Knesset passed an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law that was initiated by Shmuli and the Let the Animals Live organization and which was merged with a government bill. The amendment increased the jail term for animal abuse from three to four years. However, prison terms for serious violations of the law usually don’t come close to the maximum threshold; in fact, prison sentences are rarely meted out for such infractions.

Recently there were two exceptions. Last month the Kiryat Gat Magistrate’s Court sentenced an Ashkelon resident to 15 months in prison for killing his sister’s puppy by slamming it against the wall, and then beating her other dog with his fists.

The Netanya Magistrate’s Court two months ago sentenced a Tel Mond resident to 13 months’ imprisonment for stabbing a neighbor’s dog when it was tied up and not threatening him. The dog survived after several operations.