Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Obligation to our pets

Judaism has several laws regarding how one should treat animals - both the ones you own, the ones your neighbor own and those in the wild. There is an issue of Tzar Ba'alei Chayim, of causing an animal distress or suffering or pain.

Anyone who has owned anything larger than a rabbit will most likely say that when their animal showed signs of distress, the animal was taken to a vet.

So where does that leave the pet parakeet? The guinea pig? (although to be fair, often the first you realize there's something wrong with the budgie is when it's claws up at the bottom of the cage)

A young woman on Imamother, who lives on an apartment in a settlement in Israel has several chickens she keeps in a coop in her yard as well as a budgie and several fish indoors. She's thinking of expanding to a rabbit or two and maybe turtles, all to be kept outside. The reason for her post was for other suggestions for low and easy maintenance animals to keep.

Instead of animal ideas, I offered her some food for thought:

1. I don't think her (ultra-Orthodox) neighbors signed up to live near a 'farm'... between the animal noises and the smell, I don't think they'll appreciate this endeavor.

2. The cost of food and the vet when an animal gets sick.

3. The time it takes to keep things clean.

4. She'll need to find someone to take care of the animals whenever you go away.

5. She's having a baby (In addition to already having a 1 and a half year old and she runs a Ma'on from her house).

The young woman briefly touches upon the smell and noise thing and ignores points 3, 4 and 5 completely.

Here's what she had to say about point 2: Most of these animals eat kitchen scraps or backyard weeds. I don't believe in taking animals to the vet. (Stone me, ok? I don't believe in investing a fortune on animal care. If they're that sickly, they can be put to sleep.)

I asked her if she'd ever heard of Tzar Ba'alei Chayim... to which she said: I will not pay more than I pay for an animal to take it to a doctor. Animals are not people, and I dont think tzaar baalei chayim involves taking chickens or birds or hamsters to vets when they have a cold or the flu or whatever. If it were an expensive animal like a goat, I would for sure take it to the vet if it was sick because I wouldnt want to lose the hundreds or thousands I invested. If I saw an animal was really suffering, I'd take it to go to sleep. I think people that treat animals like people are misguided. Animals are not people, and not doing the same for an animal that you would for a person is perfectly fine, as long as you're not intentionally letting it suffer. Do you really think that for thousands of years, all torah jews that owned a chicken or whatever would take him to a "doctor" when something didnt look right?

Funny, but the Torah actually treats animals 'like humans'... Shiluach haKen off the top of my head. And there are several other Halachot about treating animals.

Personally I find her cavalier attitude about animals to be rather disgusting, but... whatever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. It's really not right to acquire animals without the intention of caring for them.

BTW, I didn't know you have another blog.