Dear Rabbi

A neighbour in a building next to ours obtained a pet rabbit. I passed the rabbit every day on my way to Mikvah. It was placed in a very dirty backyard – with no food and no water. I saw it nibbling once (in desperation I guess) on a broken leaf of a broken down palm tree. It was lucky to have found it. A few days ago, I saw the kids in the area pouncing around the park area looking like they were having fun. They were. They were chasing the bunny (which had obviously got out somehow) looking for any way to punish it or better yet kill it. One girl spat on it in a most ugly fashion as she laughed. I reprimanded the children but they just laughed it off and continued to tease me(!) It happened that the owner was walking by – by coincidence) and asked me if perhaps I knew anything about their lost bunny. I pointed them to the bushes where the bunny was hiding. The father told me that one must pick up a bunny by its ears (a most painful thing to do) and I tried to explain the Mitzvah of Tzaar Baal Chayim to him. It doesn’t help much – as I already live in a wall-to-wall filled area in Israel of Charedi Jews who already “know” about this important Mitzvah. Eventually he caught the bunny who refused outright to return to its owner. The next morning – I saw the bunny again. This time, locked in a cage just a Tefach larger than itself. No water. No food. I was angry! I waited to see how things would turn out. Nothing changed the entire day, and the bunny was left in the tiny cage. The next morning I saw the same thing. By coincidence, when I came out later that day – I saw the owner feeding it a solitary carrot. I told the owner he was behaving cruelly to the bunny, but he laughed it off saying the bunny was well taken care of. His wife agreed. I am angry at what I am seeing. Yet again – this morning – I see the bunny trapped in the tiny cage – unable to move. There is no food, nor water. Am I permitted to report this man to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or to any other organisation – or does that border on making me a Moser in any way? Is there anything else I can do. The animal is no doubt in extreme pain – to the pleasure of its owners. I have pictures showing the terrible condition of the bunny. Thanks.

Answer:

Your neighbors don’t seem to be intentionally torturing animals for pleasure. More likely they are just uneducated as to proper rabbit care, and somewhat insensitive, probably stemming from ignorance. Going to some organization will probably not be effective as they are busy dealing with much more extreme cases of abuse. I would recommend buying or printing out for them some literature about rabbit care, and presenting it to them in a friendly positive way. Something like “it”s so nice how you chose to raise a pet rabbit, it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about kindness to all of Hashem’s creatures. I came across some really interesting info that would be helpful to you to properly take care of your pet”. Maybe you can study the literature yourself and offer to give them an interesting class on the topic, with the addition of some words of Chazal about Tzar Balei Chaim. If they are approached in this way, with positive reinforcement and empowerment you have a good chance of improving their behavior, your relationship with them [and perhaps your view of your neighborhood residents in general]. While this may not be the easiest solution, it will be the most effective and rewarding one.

Tags: animals pets

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