The national campaign to encourage the neutering and spaying of dogs, has won great PR so far, but this week it found itself facing criticism from an unexpected source. The chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, stated that the Torah forbids surgical neutering or spaying (ie, the removal of the dog’s testicles and the female dog’s uterus), and only allows for “hormonal neutering.”
In a ruling published this weekend, the prominent Zionist rabbi wrote that Chazal (the sages of blesses memory) distinguished between surgical neutering, which involves the removal of the breeding organs, to a hormonal procedure, which only neutralizes the ability to give birth. “It’s true that surgical neutering is a one-time thing, simpler and perhaps also cheaper, but the Torah forbids it and only permits hormonal neutering,” he ruled.
Veterinarians recommend surgery (Archive photo: Erez Erlichman)
Rabbi Ariel went on to list the halachic difficulties involved in raising a dog, and called on the public to “thoroughly mull whether to get a dog at all.” He stressed that a large dog can only be raised in peripheral areas, and even them be kept on a leash at all times. The owners of quiet dogs must also make sure to prevent any damage, harm or inconvenience their pet may cause others, make sure it does not “sully the streets,” and consider the limitations on neutering.
‘Surgery prevents diseases’Dr Nissim Ariel, head veterinarian of the Let the Animals Live foundation, told Ynet in response that the surgical procedure has beneficial results other than neutralizing the breeding capacity. He said that research over the past 20 years had found that female dogs that had not been spayed tended to develop carcinogenic tumors and uterus infections, and that spaying significantly reduced these risks. With male dogs, neutering prevents prostate problems, while the hormonal treatment multiplies the risk for carcinogenic tumors by tenfold.
The foundation’s director-general and legal counselor, Reuven Ladiansky, added that “the Halacha unequivocally forbids causing suffering to animals. In Israel, there’s an especially high rate in the natural increase of dogs and cats, many of which unfortunately find themselves abandoned on the streets, exposed to disease, hunger and thirst, severe abuse, being hit by cars or even put down by the authorities.
“The Let the Animals Live foundation recommends that every dog owner in Israel neuters their dogs. This is a relatively simple procedure, followed by short recovery period, that is a suitable and humane way to reduce the cat and dog population and reduce the suffering of animals in Israel.”