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Lawyers: Time to Throw the Book at Abusers of Animals

Penalties for animal cruelty may be increased substantially, the Attorney General said.
By David Lev
First Publish: 2/21/2012, 12:15 AM

Animals that are often the victims of torture
Animals that are often the victims of torture
Flash 90

A cross-ministerial panel on ways to increase enforcement of laws against cruelty to animals filed its recommendations with the Attorney General, his office said Monday. The panel included representatives of the Agriculture and Environment ministries, and police, and its findings are currently being analyzed by the relevant government organizations.

The existence of the panel was revealed by the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein when several attorneys asked him to increase the penalties against individuals found guilty of torturing animals. The request was made several months ago, when an employee of the Ramat Gan Safari was filmed throwing heavy rocks at antelopes, injuring them.

In their letter to the Attorney General, the attorneys pointed to the Safari incident as one of many in which animals were tortured that had been reported recently in the media. Other incidents included poor treatment of kittens and puppies by children and adults, and dune buggy riders running over turtles at the shore. Police were well aware of these incidents, the letter added, but they failed to do anything about them.

Although there were penalties on the books for such crimes, the problem was enforcement of the law, the letter said. “Unfortunately, enforcement of laws to protect animals is not a priority of the Israel Police. Only in rare cases is there an indictment.

“We believe it is not unreasonable to expect the courts to take upon themselves the mission of preventing this kind of torture by increasing the punishments for these crimes drastically,” the letter continued. “It is our obligation to protect all living things, especially weaker creatures who are unable to defend themselves. And protecting animals is an important educational process that refines our sensitivities.”

The attorneys mentioned in their letter studies that showed that those who tortured animals very often turned violent against their fellow humans, so it made sense to arrest behavior that was clearly going to get out of hand as early as possible. “There is no reason for Israel, a developed and forward-thinking country, not to impose a large fine on those guilty of these crimes, at a minimum. Increasing the punishments for these crimes will, we believe, greatly reduce their frequency,” the letter concluded.