Since the legal subject of owning a dog in Israel is not well known to the public, I would like to provide some basic concepts about owning and maintaining a dog in Israel.
As you may already know, implementing these laws and regulations is not an easy task and in spite of all the good will and efforts, many of the regulations are not well implemented.
The Law and the Practice
One of the main problems that dog owners run into is being sued. The dog owner is the one that is solely responsible to explain why the dog did not follow the rules, although this is almost impossible to accomplish. A dog owner being found not guilty of when his dog attacks another person is so rare that I cannot even recall a time when that has happened.
The law states that every dog over three months old must have a valid license. License fee payment will be given after vaccination against rabies along with identifying the dog with a microchip under his skin.
The license is valid for one year. If a dog changes owners, it is mandatory to re-license the dog.
The law provides that the Secretary of Agriculture may demand that a dangerous dog be licensed for third party insurance against bodily injuries and property, but such an obligation is not set as a legal regulation. Municipal veterinarian doctors may refuse to give or renew a license at his discretion, for various reasons including offenses committed by the dog or the dog’s owner.
If the license was canceled, the dog’s owner must hand over the dog within 24 hours to one of those stipulated by law, such as a protected facility determined by the local authority.
National Registration Center
A National Registration Center was established by the Ministry of Agriculture, and it includes the dog’s details.
The Registration Center has registered biting dogs and the registration of owners holding two or more biting dogs. The Municipal Veterinary doctor needs to report to the registry center dogs that have been marked by him, given or revoked licenses, and if an aggressive dog was brought to his attention.
Holding (owning) a Dog
A dog’s owner must keep the dog in his yard. The yard must be marked with a sign: “Beware of the Dog”. The fine for ignoring this regulation is 3,000 shekels. When in a public place, the dog must be held on a leash by a person who can control the dog. The maximum leash length for a “normal” dog (determined by regulations of 2005) is up to five meters. If a dog is defined as “dangerous”, then the limit is two meters and they must be muzzled, even at home, if a child under the age of 16 years is present.
Taking Possession of a Dog – Detention by the Authorities
If the dog does not have a valid license or is being held because of non-compliance of the regulations, the municipal veterinarian doctor or inspector is allowed to take the dog and move him to a municipal detention location. The owner can contact the authorities and ask to have the dog returned to him within ten days of receipt of notification of detention. According to the considerations of the municipal veterinarian doctor, he can issue a license or cancel or prescribe conditions for the dog that broke the regulations. If not contacted, the municipal veterinarian doctor may give the dog to the security forces or another organization. If this is not possible, then the doctor may order to have the dog put down, with the expenses falling on the dog’s owner.
What dogs are considered to be dangerous?
– A dog over the age of three months who bites and has caused bodily injury or damage;
– A breed that is considered dangerous;
– A breed that the Minister, with the approval of the Knesset Finance Committee, has stated is a dangerous breed;
– A cross breed of dangerous dogs;
– If there are physical attributes and behavior of a dangerous dog.
When preparing a list of dogs declared dangerous in Israel, two characteristics of dogs were taken into account: the degree of aggressiveness and extent of damage he might cause. Eight species of dogs are considered “dangerous” by law:
- American Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Am staff)
- Bull Terrier
- Duguay Argentine (Dogo Argentino)
- Japanese Peafowl (Tosa)
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Stapp English) (Staffordshire bull terrier) (Staffie)
- Pitbull Terrier
- Brazilian Filet (Fila brasileiro)
Holding a dog without a valid license and allowing the dog to go outside the yard is punishable to six months in prison. Holding a dangerous dog in violation of the regulations or giving false information on essential issues about the dog is punishable to one year in prison.
The law prohibits breeding dangerous dogs in Israel. One must spay or neuter a dangerous dog before the age of six months. If authorization is given not to spay or neuter due to life-threatening danger to the dog, the dog must be prevented from mating.
There are around a quarter of a million dogs registered with the authorities, and around five thousand of them are considered “dangerous dogs”.