Anat Ghelber
Anat Ghelber

Animal Abuse in our community

One thing has been happening in my community that is bothering me, and as a jew, I feel that I have the responsibility to raise and correct it-animal abuse. Some of the societal leaders, such as Rabbis and teachers, should have vast awareness of some issues happening around or they will continue happening. A core teaching among the Jews is doing good to others. With this in mind, animal abuse can be considered mistreatment of animals, which can be considered the same as humans. As Torah says, animals were created by God just like humans, meaning they should be taken care of the same way people do. It further states that people should feed animals before they feed themselves. Despite such teaching, some people are still torturing animals and causing them more trouble.

I chose this subject because I do feed street cats in different areas, and I have seen people do it. One of the places I visit is Ocean Parkway. Right between two Shuls. There was one instance that I was feeding the cats, as usual, only this time along a sidewalk. However, a person from the neighborhood started to yell at me, telling me not to feed the cats on his property, even though it was not his property but rather a sidewalk which is public. The first problem here was that the sidewalk was dirty, and the man did not seem to pay attention to that, but to me as I fed the poor innocent creatures. So, I decided to shift the feeding area to the ocean Parkway near the grass. However, something has been bothering me-cats have been found dead in the area, and I have thought it has to do with the complaining neighbors.

My worries turned out to be true on Simhat Torah when I went on my usual walk to feed the cats, and I noticed poison all over with cat food in their water in the place I feed them between Ave R and S. As usual, the cats started to eat, but I was worried they could eat the poison and I had to make the hish sound to stop them from eating as I picked up the poison. I could imagine the burning sensation that the dead cats felt as my fingers felt picking the poison up. To make matters worse, even religious leaders do not seem to be understanding the urgency of taking this matter into consideration. I tried to talk to a religious leader to warn the neighbors about poisoning the cats, but all they could say was that I shouldn’t feed the cats in the first place. Feeling hopeless, I took the matter into my own hands and starting knocking on the neighbors’ doors one by one. Every neighbor was good to me until the moment I could start talking about cats, making them slam doors on my face. One of the neighbors laughed at me, saying, “who cares? They are just cats.” During that time, there was a police car in the neighborhood, and I decided to report the matter. I tried telling them that that was wrong for the cats and for children playing along with the compound. The police told me that I should not be feeding the cats and that it was no offense placing poison outside. It was hard for me to believe that no one cared much about the animals, and they all seemed to take them as lesser creatures.

From this experience, Rabbis, teachers, and leaders must teach the community that animals should be protected, not be abused. Like any other innocent creatures, cats cannot protect themselves, and they need protection. A friend shared a case with me where she witnessed a guy putting poison on every corner to kill birds and cats. However, upon calling the police, the case was closed, and no serious steps were taken. This goes against Torah. Even though not all people can have a good taste of cats, killing them is not a solution. If so, how would this world look like without animals? People need to understand that animals are creatures like humans created by God. Therefore, I would like to develop a lasting solution to stop this issue and make sure that people treat animals right. However, it will be a dangerous move to do it alone because I could get hurt or even murdered in the process. I once had a person throw a rock at me in one instance when I talked about cats after a different  poisoning case, but I managed to run and save my life. I would like to try protests or public speaking to create awareness in synagogues. Should there be anyone willing to support me, kindly send me an email at anatushhh@yahoo.com

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