8th February 2016: The “No More Dogs of War” petition has now closed and been submitted to the Dutch government. Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign. We look forward to updating you on its progress.
A disturbing article published in the last few days by The Electronic Intifada – an independent news outlet covering the Palestinian struggle – highlighted the use of “attack dogs” by Israeli armed forces on Palestinian citizens. These dogs, often exported by European countries, and particularly the Netherlands, have been used for many years as living, breathing weapons – leading to devastating injuries on many civilians. Palestinian human rights organisation, Al Haq, has been working to encourage the Dutch government to place a ban on the export of the dogs. The Palestinian Animal League wholeheartedly supports the efforts of Al Haq and the call made in the article for the Dutch government to act and ban the export of dogs for this purpose.
The article published in Electronic Intifada focused strongly on injuries sustained by individual people as a result of the use of dogs in this way; highlighting concerns which are shared in full by the PAL team. That said, we also felt that it was important to add further context and background to the issue by extending the rationale behind the call to ban the export of dogs for use in this way as based in concern for both human and animal protection.
It perhaps goes without saying that dogs used in conflict zones are being deliberately placed in harm’s way by their guardians and, as an animal protection organisation, this is not something that PAL believes can be justified under any circumstances. Indeed, it seems incredible to think that training dogs to fight one another is seen in many countries as one of the most brutal forms of animal abuse and yet companies can make profit from training dogs to carry out violent attacks on people by selling them to Governments for this specific purpose.
But it is not just the risk to the individual dogs and the individual people who are attacked by those dogs that gives such cause for concern. The PAL team is also deeply concerned about the societal impact, on animals and people, when intelligent, companionable animals such as dogs are used for such violent ends against society as a whole.
The Societal Impact of Using Dogs as Weapons
From a young age, Palestinian children are taught to be afraid of dogs. And with good reason because, in Palestine, everyone knows of someone who has been attacked by a dog set upon them by members of the armed forces. The result of this is that dogs might be both feared and hated which, in turn, leads to high levels of violence towards dogs; sometimes in the form of municipality-led lethal control of stray populations as well as in the form of individuals taking matters into their own hands and hurting or killing dogs seen as either a threat or a nuisance.
During the research stage of PAL’s humane management programme for street dogs in Palestine, our team found an overwhelming majority of stakeholders cited “trained attack dogs” as being one of the major societal concerns around the stray dog population. Stakeholders told us that the fear of these dogs formed, in large part, the basis for public support for the lethal control methods currently used across the West Bank. While these fears are not unfounded given the way in which dogs have been used against Palestinians, we found that the number of dog bites actually recorded was miniscule (eight in one twelve-month period in Palestine’s most populated city) in comparison to the disproportionate level of concern relating to the potential for dog attacks. Put simply, our research suggested that, while the vast majority of dogs on the streets of Palestine are not aggressive towards people, a large proportion of people appear to fear them regardless
This suggested to us that concerns over the use of dogs as weapons by the Israeli armed forces do not just impact the dogs and people caught up in the attacks, but is also influencing decision-making with regard to the largely harmless stray population. This in turn is resulting in the (often painful) deaths of hundreds of dogs within Palestine each year as the authorities attempt to alleviate the problem and bow to public demand.
In the year that PAL has been working with local authorities to develop Palestine’s first trap, neuter, vaccinate and release programme for street dogs, we have been delighted that authorities appear open to explore alternatives to lethal control and the first non-lethal control programme is due for launch in the coming months. However, while Palestinians continue to be placed under threat of deliberate dog attacks by the occupying forces, making progress on the ground to improve public perceptions of dogs and subsequent treatment of dogs by members of the public is a real challenge
Help us to Protect People and Animals from this Cruel Practice
It is clear to us that, in the interests of the protection of both people and animals, the continued use of dogs in attacks against Palestinians must stop. We believe that this is the only way in which we can begin to work within civil society to begin to undo the damage caused by the deliberate and long-standing campaign waged by the occupying forces to strike fear of dogs into the heart of the Palestinian population.
As a result of communication between Al Haq and the Dutch government, officials in the Netherlands have suggested that they will consider placing restrictions on the export of dogs to Israel, but no firm decision has been reached, nor has any action been taken to date. We therefore hope that you will join us in signing and sharing our petition to call upon the Dutch Minister for Animal Welfare and the Dutch Minister for Trade to take immediate action to end the export of dogs to Israel for use against Palestinian citizens.
No More Dogs of War
Read the petition
|2,533||Iyad I.||Palestine||Aug 29, 2016|
|2,532||Eric P.||Canada||Jul 09, 2016|
|2,531||Geneviève D.||France||Jul 08, 2016|
|2,530||Elvire D.||France||Jul 07, 2016|
|2,529||Cristina Q.||Spain||Jun 24, 2016|
|2,528||Jeremy C.||Belgium||Jun 14, 2016|
|2,527||Edith D.||France||May 24, 2016|
|2,526||Joanna B.||Poland||Apr 11, 2016|
|2,525||Diaz A.||France||Apr 05, 2016|
|2,524||Jenny E.||Germany||Apr 05, 2016|
|2,523||Felix C.||Spain||Apr 04, 2016|
|2,522||José Z.||Nederland||Mar 24, 2016|
|2,521||Maira L.||Brasil||Mar 20, 2016|
|2,520||Adrian A.||England||Mar 20, 2016|
|2,519||Nadine D.||Belgium||Mar 20, 2016|
|2,518||kathleen c.||Belgium||Mar 19, 2016|
|2,517||Isabelle Y.||Belgium||Mar 19, 2016|
|2,516||MARIM A.||PALSTINE||Mar 12, 2016|
|2,515||Gabriele S.||Österreich||Mar 12, 2016|
|2,514||Martine G.||France||Mar 10, 2016|
|2,513||Thomas K.||Austria||Mar 06, 2016|
|2,512||Senna B.||Netherlands||Feb 27, 2016|
|2,511||Stijn H.||Netherlands||Feb 26, 2016|
|2,510||Paulo F.||Brasil||Feb 23, 2016|
|2,509||P T.||United Kingdom||Feb 21, 2016|
Photo source: Maja Dumat