In Groundbreaking Move, Israel Creates Budget to Fix Stray Dogs Rather Than Putting Them Down

The $1.25 million budget aims to reduce the population of strays, and to reduce the risk of outbreaks of rabies and other diseases.

Stray dogs near Moshav Elkosh in northern Israel in 2012.
Yaron Kaminsky

Israel's parliament on Tuesday passed a groundbreaking law, creating a budget to neuter and spay stray dogs caught by the authorities, rather than put them down. The 4.5 million shekel budget (about $1.25 million) aims to reduce the population of strays, and to reduce the risk of outbreaks of rabies and other diseases.

The Knesset members approved the law unanimously in its second and third readings into law on Tuesday.

Although the cabinet tried to postpone the law's execution for two years, until 2019, it should be coming into force this year.

The bill was sponsored by MK Nurit Koren of Likud, who argued that that in the long run, the law will cost less than the upkeep of kennels and cost of dealing with strays, which costs the state about 33 million shekels a year.

Only one out of six stray dogs finds is taken in and adopted. The rest are killed, and the victims include large numbers of perfectly healthy dogs, Koren said. "The people of Israel are obligated to save every soul, including dogs," she added.

Israelis are pet-crazy, certainly in the secular areas: an Economy Ministry survey concluded that a third of Israelis keep animals for pleasure. Given that pet-care products are, by and large, imported, the pleasure isn't a cheap one.

Pet shops, veterinarians and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimate that raising a small dog will set you back 2,300 shekels ($600) a year, with a large dog costing 4,700 shekels ($1,220) and a cat 1,300 shekels ($340). This only covers basics such as immunization, treatment for fleas and ticks, licensing for a dog, food and basics such as cat litter.