The Knesset approved, in a preliminary reading on Wednesday, a bill that would require all animal shelters to sterilize cats and dogs before releasing them for adoption.

The bill, submitted by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor), won a large majority of votes on Wednesday morning, receiving 39 votes in favor and 9 against.

Aiming to curb the phenomenon of cat and dog street proliferation following abandonment, the legislation stipulates that pet adoption would occur only following sterilization, according to Cabel. As chairman of the Lobby for the Protection of Animals, he is promoting the bill in conjunction with the organizations the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel and Let Animals Live.

“This proposal handles in a more humane way the phenomenon of dog and cat abandonment,” Cabel said. “These animals wander the streets and suffer from hunger and abuse, and in many cases are killed by the authorities.”

In addition to requiring sterilization before adoption, the bill allows the local authorities and NGOs in charge of the animal shelters to charge a fee for the spaying and neutering operations.

Adoption fees are a common practice in Israel regardless, allowing for sterilizations, vaccinations and an increased certainty that the adopters are serious about their responsibilities, according to Cabel.

Tens of thousands of abandoned cats and dogs are captured and killed every year by local authorities due to overpopulation on the streets, the text of the bill explains. The economic burden imposed upon the public as a result is enormous, the bill adds.

“Every non-sterilized dog or cat provided by animal shelters may give birth every year to between 10 and 20 unclaimed babies, who find themselves thrown into the street or brought to animal shelters, where many of them find their deaths,” the bill says.

Hilma Shmoshkowitz, chairwoman of the Tel Aviv-based Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals, welcomed the preliminary passage of the bill. SPCA has been working for years to see that the spaying and neutering legislation, proposed by Cabel, would pass through the Knesset.

“This important bill is going to change the miserable condition of abandoned animals and reduce the killings of many homeless animals,” Shmoshkowitz said. “Until better days for animals arrive, I call upon every responsible adult citizen in the State of Israel to adopt a dog or cat from the shelter closest to your residence.”

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