MK proposes easing of quarantine laws after dog bite incident

Likud's Haskel, a former vet, was bitten at the Netanyahu's Hanukka party last week.

December 13, 2015 19:32
3 minute read.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his dog, Kaiya.. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

MK Sharren Haskel may have been bit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s dog Kaiya last week, but she still decided to seek a more humane way to deal with biting dogs.

Haskel (Likud), a former veterinary nurse, proposed a bill on Sunday that would reduce the amount of time dogs have to spend in quarantine, with Netanyahu’s support.

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After Kaiya bit Haskel and Or Alon, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s husband, last week at a Hanukka party for the Likud faction in the Prime Minister’s Office, the Netanyahu family had to take the dog, who they adopted earlier this year, to be quarantined. Earlier this year, she bit the prime minister, and he needed to get a rabies shot.

Netanyahu wrote on Facebook on Friday that this was the first time he had heard about the law requiring quarantining, and found it to “have problems that are not consistent with logic and mercy.” He said he plans to ask the Health and Agriculture ministries and animal rights organizations to come up with ideas to improve the existing law.

Haskel said that in addition to the Netanyahu family having to give Kaiya over to be quarantined, she was given a suggestion two weeks ago to change the law on a Knesset Channel show, in which citizens give MKs ideas for legislation, and began working on it then.

“The need to change the law for quarantining dogs is clear. Not only is the law sometimes taken advantage of in negative ways, the experience of a 10-day quarantine at a municipal veterinarian is traumatic in of itself and can worsen existing traumas, especially in dogs that were adopted after being abused,” Haskel explained.

She added that, while Kaiya will have to sit in quarantine, she hopes to put an end to “the law that hurts dogs and their owners.”

In response, the Agriculture Ministry said that it is in the process of advancing an amendment to the Rabies Ordinance – which currently requires that any animal who has bitten a person or another animal be quarantined by the owner within 24 hours of the bite’s occurrence. The new amendment will be distributed by the end of the year, a ministry statement said.

Among other provisions, the amendment will include an option to hold the animal in question for observation at home, rather than sending him or her for quarantining at the municipal shelter, the ministry added. To qualify for a home stay, both the animal and owner would need to fulfill certain criteria, under the supervision of the municipal veterinarian.

“This corrective measure is one of several amendments to the Rabies Ordinance that the ministry is seeking to advance, with the goal of safeguarding public health from a disease that is dangerous to humans and animals, and in parallel, promoting animal welfare,” the statement added.

In May 2014, the Agriculture Ministry had previously announced its approval of home stays for animals that had bitten humans or other animals. The ministry had approved the plans following the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee that had investigated the issue, led by the head of Veterinary Services at the ministry.

The committee, which included representatives from the Agriculture and Health ministries, as well as private doctors and veterinarians, ultimately decided to recommend allowing home observation for rabies under certain conditions – including a proper vaccination history, no signs of behavioral changes, no contact with suspicious animals during the 45 days preceding the bite and living in a low-risk zone for rabies.

Despite many queries from The Jerusalem Post, the Agriculture Ministry did not provide comment as to what became of the May 2014 approval prior to deadline on Sunday.

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