Minister urges population transfer: For stray cats
If it wasn’t printed in black and white on an official document you may have thought this was a joke, but Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) was completely serious when he offered up his unique solution to the street cat problem: Population transfer.
In a recent letter to the environmental protection minister, Ariel offered to take the budget issued for the treatment of strays – NIS 4.5 million a year – and use it to "Transfer dogs and cats of a single gender (all the males or females) to a foreign country that is willing to accept them."
Ariel believes that there is a Halachic (Jewish Law) problem with the current method being used to combat the issue of stray animals – spaying and neutering the animals to prevent population growth- due to concerns for their well being, and the fact that God blessed all the animals when he decreed "go forth and multiply in the land of Israel."
Ariel has become an appreciated figure among animal rights groups ever since his took the position, especially due to his leadership in the battle against the mistreatment of animals before slaughter. But recent statements have shown that he is opposed to one of the ministry's more successful programs dealing with the issue of animal welfare – the spay and neuter program for street cats.
Over 100,000 cats have been spayed or neutered in recent years by the Agriculture Ministry and the local councils. The revelation that the minister plans to shutter the program led MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) to write a letter to Ariel – urging him to reinstate the program. "Spaying and neutering street cats is the only action being taken to prevent uncontrolled growth, and preserve the health of the stray population," she wrote. "Ending this program will allow for a spike in the number of stray kittens being born every year, which will increase the number of cats which will die of hunger, thirst, cold, dehydration and more," she concluded.
Animal rights activists have started a petition aimed at keeping the program alive, which has already received 9,000 signatures. "As a result of your decision, thousands of street cats will go hungry, and the financial burden on the citizens will only grow as a result," the activists wrote.
Ministry officials criticized the Minister's letter saying, "It's a shame that he is destroying all the progress we have made on animal welfare issues dating back to the beginning of his term."