Wild dogs from Gaza swarm across abandoned Israeli border towns

Stray dogs from the Gaza Strip roam Gaza border-area communities after residents evacuated during ongoing war.

Susan Tawil, World Israel News

The evacuation of approximately 200,000 Israelis from their homes bordering the Gaza Strip to escape the hostilities of the war has unleashed another problem in frontier towns already hard hit by the October 7th invasion and subsequent rocket attacks —a huge increase in the number of stray dogs roaming the deserted communities.

The feral dogs, which have crossed over from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, pose several public safety problems.

They can spread diseases, especially rabies, and they impact the ecosystem negatively by quickly reproducing and competing for the same prey as wolves, jackals, and other animals native to the environment.

Packs of dozens of wild dogs have been sited roaming around Kibbutz Erez, Kibbutz Be’eri, Kibbutz Re’im, Kfar Aza, Ein haBsor, and other communities that border Gaza.

The Ministry of Agriculture says it is monitoring the situation. The dogs seem unafraid of people; Kobi Sofer of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority shot a video driving by a large dog pack near Kibbutz Erez, from which several of the dogs approached his car and barked at him.

The large number of stray dogs in Israel is not a new problem.

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Last year, there were over 25,0000 wild dogs in the Negev desert area in southern Israel, especially around the cities of Ber Sheva, Dimona, and Arad.

Another 10,0000 feral dogs roam through other parts of the country.

A pilot program was proposed in the past year to decrease the canine population and limit the spread of rabies.

Headed by Yael Arkin, general manager of the nonprofit animal welfare organization, Let the Animals Live, the program would gather the dogs to neuter and vaccinate them, and then return them into nature.

Israeli veterinarians opposed the program, disagreeing with releasing the animals back into the wild.

Feral dogs have posed serious problems on both sides of the Green Line for years.

In November of 2022, the Palestinian mayor of Hebron went on the radio to offer a bounty of 20 shekels (approximately $5.50) for each stray dog that was killed. His offer was retracted due to popular criticism and protests by animal rights organizations.

In 2021, the SPCA (Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals) called for the Israeli government to budget for a five-year plan to handle the stray dog problem. The proposal was put forward in conjunction with animal rights groups, the agriculture and environmental protection agencies, and the finance ministry, but did not pass.

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To address the current problem, the ministry of agriculture has allocated 2.1 million shekels ($580,000) to local communities. This will fund the capture of hundreds of dogs to vaccinate them for rabies, and to neuter and microchip them. Aside from releasing the wild dogs back into their habitat, dogs will also be offered for adoption.