Dogs in Darkness

After the intervention of the Society, dogs were rescued that had been kept in a small storeroom at Kvutzat Kinneret and had suffered neglect and abuse

At the end of last week a complaint was received at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel, about serious abuse and neglect of five dogs, kept in an isolated storeroom in the center of an agricultural area at Kvutzat Kinneret. In the complaint it was stated that the dogs were living in a small locked storeroom in which they also had to relieve themselves, while their physical condition was very low.

The Society was swift in sending representatives to the kibbutz, who met with the complainant . The complainant brought the representatives to the storeroom, which appeared to be a very small structure, covered on all sides by plastic bags and canvas. The howling of the dogs was heard from a distance, and when the representatives approached the storeroom and removed the plastic from the door, a horrifying sight was revealed to their eyes. Within an area of about 7 meters squared they saw five dogs, with the floor of the storeroom covered by their bodily waste, their food dishes empty and their water dish filled with green slime and a little water. The dogs, kept in the storeroom with no possibility of seeing daylight, were in a state of severe hunger and emaciation and suffered from eye infections, fleas, fur loss and various injuries.

Since the storeroom was locked, the representatives of the Society contacted Dr. Michael Kerner, the official veterinarian of the Emek Hayarden Regional Council, and asked him to arrive at the site and to confiscate the dogs. Dr. Kerner refused the request of the representatives, and after they claimed that he left them no choice but to go through legal channels and the media, the veterinarian arrived on the scene.

According to the complainant, about a year ago she complained to Dr. Kerner about the condition of the dogs and was assured that the topic would be dealt with, but nothing was done about the matter. In addition, the complainant turned to the police and a squad car showed up two days before the visit of the representatives of the Society, but the police officers showed indifference and claimed that since they were not veterinarians they could do nothing. This was in spite of the fact that the law states that even police are authorized to confiscate animals if there is a reasonable basis to suspect torture or abuse. The complainant claims that she turned to many organizations that deal with animal welfare, but they all turned their backs on her, until she turned to the Society, which hastened to arrive at the site and to act to end the suffering of the dogs.

In a conversation that developed between the veterinarian and the complainant, Dr. Kerner claimed that he had been aware of the fact that dogs had been kept in that place already for five years, and in the past it looked better. He also admitted that the dogs were not being held in appropriate conditions, that they are registered with him as having received vaccinations last September, and that he himself saw them two months previously. In answer to the complainant statement that the bones of the dogs were protruding because of emaciation, Dr. Karner responded jokingly “Did you ever see a dog whose bones didn’t protrude?”

After the representatives of the organization pleaded with him that this was a matter of a transgression of the regulations of the Ministry of Agriculture, which were issued the previous November, regarding the maintenance of animals, Dr. Kerner wanted to leave the dogs in that state for another two months, during which time the owners would be given an opportunity to improve their manner of maintenance and their health situation. At the same time he was ignoring the economic situation of the dog owner, who arrived on the scene later in the day.

The person who had the five dogs was a 60 year old man who lived about 3 kilometers from the site. According to his statement, he tried to get there once a day in order to feed the dogs, and in addition he also fed dozens of cats who lived near his house. It seemed that his love of animals was great, and he claimed that he even took a loan in order to afford the vaccination for the dogs, since he only earned a small salary and his economic state was not good. According to the head of the local council, the official veterinarian and others who had spoken to him, the impression that they got was that it was a matter of a somewhat eccentric person whose judgment was faulty, who didn’t understand that the dogs were being raised in inappropriate conditions and were suffering from neglect and abuse.

The next day the representatives of the Society returned to the storeroom and met with the dog owner and with a private veterinarian who was known to him. The representatives and the veterinarian explained to the dog owner in length that the dogs were suffering in the present conditions and the veterinarian even gave a specific list of costs of the treatments that they needed to receive. At the end of the campaign of persuasion the dog owner agreed to transfer four of the five dogs to the auspices of the SPCA Israel, and to keep one dog in his possession, while the complainant volunteered to help him care for it.

The representatives of the Society collected the dogs and brought them to the shelter of the Society in Tel Aviv. The veterinarians of the Society’s veterinary clinic hastened to care for the dogs, and we hope that soon they will return to a normal physical state and will be candidates for adoption in warm homes, in which they would be able to receive proper treatment and appropriate living conditions.

At this time the Society is working on the issue of the defective care given by the official veterinarian, through the services of the attorney Moshe Gliko. A protest letter was sent to the administrator of the veterinary services and to the person in charge of carrying out the animal abuse law at the Ministry of Agriculture. That law specifies the sequence of events and raises questions regarding Dr. Kerner’s manner of treating the issue, as well as regarding the policemen who visited the site. At the finish of the letter there is a call to use their full authority and to make it clear to the veterinarians that they must act immediately in any case of abuse that is brought to their attention so that similar cases will not occur.