(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Agriculture Ministry’s will retain responsibility for enforcing the Animal Welfare Law, the cabinet decided on Sunday, to the dismay of many animal rights activists.
At the same time, the government intends to strengthen enforcement measures under the law.
The cabinet accepted the recommendations of an inter-ministerial team that had examined the subject.
While the Agriculture Ministry has long maintained that it should enforce Animal Welfare Law, activists have argued that the Environmental Protection Ministry would be preferable, due to conflicts of interests faced by the Agriculture Ministry in protecting the interests of both animals and agricultural producers.
“The government’s decision to adopt the committee’s recommendations will give us better tools to protect animals and safeguard their welfare, and so it will be done,” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said.
“The decision to leave the powers over protecting animal welfare in the Agriculture Ministry is correct and is a tribute that honors the ministry’s employees.”
Among the recommendations adopted by the cabinet are a series of measures to reinforce animal welfare, including the expansion of legal regulation in the sector and increased supervision, enforcement and punishment for violations, a spokesman for Ariel said.
In accordance with the committee’s suggestions, the unit that handles animal welfare will be expanded, receiving a budget of NIS 6.6 million annually, in addition to the NIS 4.5m. already designated toward preventing the proliferation of stray animals.
While animal rights activists praised the decision to increase the animal welfare budget and expand enforcement measures, they expressed disappointment that the authority for enforcing the law would remain in the hands of the Agriculture Ministry.
Profound changes – such as improving conditions at municipal shelters, ending the killing of dogs, increasing stray cat sterilizations and improving abuse investigations – are critical for protecting Israel’s animals, Anonymous for Animal Rights and Let Animals Live said in a joint statement.
“We will follow the implementation of the government decision...and will examine whether the Agriculture Ministry was able to substantially reduce abuse, or if the built-in conflict of interest in its operations prevented it from performing the job,” they said.