Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his dog, Kaiya..
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Aiming to enable some animals that have bitten other animals or humans to complete their mandatory quarantine periods at home, the Agriculture Ministry has distributed a preliminary bill that would amend the Rabies Ordinance on the matter.
The Rabies Ordinance, established in 1934 and last amended in 2004, currently requires any animal that has bitten a person or another animal to be quarantined by the owner at a municipal shelter within 24 hours of the bite’s occurrence.
The issue recently became a hot-button matter when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dog Kaiya spent time in municipal quarantine after biting MK Sharren Haskel and Or Alon, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s husband, in early December.
Distributing the initial text of the proposed bill on Sunday, the Agriculture Ministry explained that the amendment would balance the need to minimize the spread of rabies while curbing the suffering of animals that are unnecessarily removed from their homes. Each year, about 3,000 dogs are quarantined for observation for rabies following a bite, the ministry said.
According to the recommendations of a professional committee from Veterinary Services, an animal would be eligible for home quarantine if it meets certain conditions and if there is no fear regarding the risk of spreading the disease. The animal would need to be vaccinated and properly licensed, held under the responsibility of the owner and brought to the city’s veterinary department for testing.
The owner would need to ensure that the animal in question does not come into contact with any other animal aside from those living in the same home, the proposed amendment states. While the owner would be able to walk a dog as necessary – though avoiding public parks, playgrounds and schools – all cats in quarantine would not be able to leave the house except for veterinary examinations.
In order to guarantee compliance with the conditions, the dog or cat’s owner would be required to provide a financial deposit demonstrating responsibility for the animal.
The quarantine period for the animals also would be shortened slightly; whether at home or at a shelter, the 10-day isolation period would begin from the moment the bite occurs rather than from the time the animal enters quarantine.
The matter is now entering the legal planning stage, the ministry explained.
“These are significant steps that will relieve dog owners in Israel, but it is still important to remember that rabies is a fatal disease and that bite incidents must be handled according to the instructions,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said on Sunday.
“The legislative process began two years ago, and has risen to public awareness following Kaiya.”