Israel's "Jerusalem Post
" reports about changes in regulations ordered by the High Court to reduce the number of stray cats killed. The regulations, drafted by the Field Veterinarian Services Authority, delegated the decisions about extermination to a private company whose financial interests lay in destroying as many cats as possible. The Court noted that short of a health threat to humans, great weight must be given to the rights and protection of animals.
Court orders limit on alley cat killing
By DAN IZENBERG
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday ordered the Field Veterinarian Services Authority to rewrite the regulations it drafted on how to handle alley cats in order to reduce the number of cats killed by the authority's agent.
The ruling came in the wake of a petition by Let the Animals Live, and the non-profit Organization on behalf of Cats, which protested against the regulation and the delegation of power to a private company, Safeguard for Cats, to exterminate alley cats.
The petitioners stated that the current regulations did not propose any solutions to killing alley cats, including those that do not endanger the lives or health of human beings. They also charged that the authority erred in delegating the right to decide whether or not to kill the cats to a private company, in whose financial interest it is to kill as many as possible.
According to recently-retired Justice Dalia Dorner, who wrote the decision, it is obvious that the right of human beings to safety and health outweighs the welfare of cats. However, short of such a threat, the balance between the rights of humans and cats shifts. "Humans have other interests which deserve to be protected, such as comfort, quality of life and the proper allocation of funds by the health authorities," wrote Dorner.
"But these interests are not as great [as the right to life and good health.] In the balance between these rights and the protection of animals, great weight must be given to the latter."
According to Dorner, the regulations, as written today, must be changed. "Putting alley cats to death must be done with moderation and should be restricted with clear guidelines regarding time, place and conditions for doing so," wrote Dorner. "It should be the last step, taken only when there is no other effective way to protect the welfare of humans within reasonable cost."
Etty Altman, of Let the Animals Live, described the ruling as "a great victory for the animals in Israel. They have finally understood that animals here also have rights. All we did was speak in their name."
Rivi Meir, a member of the Organization on behalf of Cats, said this is the dawning of "a new age. Until now, the authorities have acted too freely with regard to the killing of cats. As of today, they are obliged to act with humanity and liberalism."