The story of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel starts in the year 1926. A Jewish tourist from England who was visiting Palestine saw donkeys suffering from saddle sores, and injured and limping horses hitched to wagons. The tourist was filled with pity for the suffering animals and in the wake of her petition to the British government the first shelter of the Society was opened, at 30 Salome Street in Tel Aviv. The area of the shelter was less than a dunam (¼ acre) of land and it could hold about 80 animals. The donkeys and the horses together had a spacious stable, the dogs and the cats were in cages with a special sleeping area and room to move. In the course of the years, many buildings were added to the original structure on Salome Street, however the Society’s ability to provide services was not enough to meet the needs.
In the days of the British Mandate, most of the populations of the animals being taken care of in the shelter were camels, horses and donkeys, which were used as means of transportation for people, and which were seen as merchandise and raw materials. When these animals were sick or old, and could no longer support their owners, they were cruelly neglected and abandoned. Two inspectors were employed at the Society, and their function was to locate suffering animals and to bring them to the pound to receive treatment.
Two inspectors were employed at the Society, and their function was to locate suffering animals and to bring them to the pound to receive treatment.
Over the course of years the type of animals being treated by the Society changed with the differences taking place in the social and financial climate of the country. Starting in 1950, most of the draft animals gradually disappeared from view and were replaced by motorized vehicles. The custom of having pets became more and more popular, but the obligation to take care of them, during the whole course of their lives, was not yet a part of the local culture. Many pet owners got tired of the responsibility and abandoned their household pets or their offspring, and these poor abandoned creatures were sentenced to malnutrition, starvation, diseases, and even abuse by people on the street.
In the early days of the State, animals such as cats and dogs were seen by the local population as a physical and health threat (for instance the fear of catching rabies). Many people avoided contact with them and others acted towards them with cruelty, the source for that often was fear.
The daily activities of the shelter were focused in three areas: management of the veterinary clinic so that the prices would be affordable to all, managing the boarding for pets, which had room for 20 animals, and the care of abandoned and unwanted animals.
The life of abandoned animals was short and harsh, either on the streets or in experimental laboratories.
Since its founding, the Society has provided a rescue vehicle for saving those unfortunate animals. The vehicle surveyed the streets, answered calls and rescued injured and sick animals: cats that were stuck and frightened in trees, on poles or on rooftops; dogs who fell into holes or wells; horses and donkeys who were injured in accidents, and more. The Society hoped to help the abandoned animals that were collected by the local authorities. Instead of being sent to the universities and hospital research laboratories, the animals would be brought to the Society's facilities.
From its very first day the Society has had a clear policy that it would not turn away any animal in distress. We try to make every effort to find a warm home for all animals, but sometimes because of illness, age or behavior problems, some of the animals are not suitable for adoption and the only option for them is euthanasia. Similarly, since the 1960’s the Society has supported spaying and neutering of all animals given for adoption, with the goal of limiting, as far as possible the uncontrolled reproduction of unwanted animals. Various societies that deal with the welfare of animals refuse to accept euthanasia as an option to the problem of over-crowding. This approach is problematic since there is no organization that has unlimited means with which to take care of such a great quantity of homeless animals (approx thousands of abandoned dogs each year and probably millions of homeless cats living in the street). Many organizations refuse to accept animals in need, and therefore do not give those who want to give them up any choice but to abandon them in the street. Unfortunately, without euthanasia the suffering of animals is not decreased but rather gets worse and escalates, since many of them are left in the streets starving and sick, and in most cases die suffering and in torment; or become the prey of those merchants without a conscience who sell them to experimental laboratories.
Milestones in the history of the Society