Shmuel Dovrat, a young religious animal lover, recently came up with a creative solution for the halachic ban on neutering pets. Dovrat sold his beloved cat Ponti to a Muslim friend who spayed the feline, and bought it back from her immediately after the procedure.
"Our cat, Pontius Pilatus, reached sexual maturity and started peeing all over the house," Dovrat recounted, explaining this is one of the side effects of sexual arousal in cats.
Dovrat and his wife realized that without spaying Ponti they would not be able to keep him, but every halachic ruling they consulted made it clear that neutering an animal was strictly forbidden.
Throwing Ponti out into the street would have been cruel, and leaving him in the current situation would have also caused the cat to suffer, said Dovrat. And so, he and his wife decided to explore halachic sources in a bid to seek a solution to the dilemma.
Ponti. An inspiration for halachic solutions (Photo: Shmuel Dovrat)
After thoroughly reading through the rulings of some of the greatest Halacha adjudicators, Dovrat came to the conclusion that the halachic ban on neutering refers to farm animals, and not to pets.
However, in order to be absolutely sure his actions did not violate Jewish law, he decided to sell Ponti to a Muslim friend and have her take the cat to the vet for the operation. Once the cat has recovered, Dovrat bought it back from the friend, paying the same price he got for selling it earlier, and also reimbursing her for the cost of the operation.
"I have no doubt that an adjudicator knows more about the Halacha than I do, but I feel uncomfortable with some of the rulings. I don't like to be fed halachic solutions with a spoon. It's always important for me to know the source and understand the process that led to the ruling," Dovrat explained.
Animals as 'entertainment'
However, Ramat Gan's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, who about a year ago ruled that surgical neutering was forbidden by the Halacha, said he did not agree with Dovrat's solution.
Ariel explained that while the great adjudicators indeed allowed Jews to let their Muslim neighbor spay their animal for them, if he wished to do so, they were never allowed to initiate such a moved themselves.
Ariel, who supports "hormonal neutering," also rejected the claim that refraining from spaying a pet constitutes cruelty to animals. "People buy dogs and cats in order to entertain their children, and not out of concern for the pets' welfare. If they are worried that the animals might have puppies and that no home could be found for them, they should find another form of entertainment to begin with," he stated.