Every Friday from mid-morning until late afternoon, it gets tricky for pedestrians to navigate Tel Aviv’s King George Street. The logjam is specifically the section between Bograshov Street and Gan Meir, on the side of the Gan Meir park. The reason is dozens of dogs tied by their leashes to the Gan Meir park fence, and people clustering to coo, caress and occasionally, close a deal and adopt one.
Where are these dogs from? Most are brought there by animal-care associations, all of which are perennially up to their gills in unwanted dogs. The dogs they bring in have received veterinary care, which involves neutering or spaying, and treating illness or injuries the dogs may have.
You can’t just show up, take a shine to a schnauzer, grab its leash and saunter off. The associations – which are as stressed for money as they are for space to care for unwanted animals - charge up to hundreds of shekels to recoup their costs of spaying, licensing and other care.
The array of potential pets on any given Friday is pretty wide, from frisky dewy-eyed puppies to perky fuzzball types to great hulking guard-dog types. Last Friday featured a blue-eyed, thick-furred husky.
What they all have in common is a crying need for a home. Almost all were abandoned and left to their own devices.
Some individuals also tend to show up hoping to find a home for their unwanted puppies, but the associations frown on this practice, which detracts from their own efforts.
So now you know why that stretch of the street is so crowded on Fridays. You may not be in a position to adopt a dog; it isn’t quite the most practical thing perhaps for tourists. But you and your children would be more than welcome to volunteer there, if only for a few minutes or hours. To do what? To take the dogs tied to the fence all day for a walk (yes, you have to pick up the poo) and to bring the ones still leashed to the fence a drink of water.
It isn’t your typical tourist activity but most days, any help is welcome. Torah may give humans dominion over animals but it also stresses the reward for kindness as for instance in Exodus 23:5: “If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.” In other words, don’t be an ass, help that unhappy donkey.