Animals Under Rocket Fire By Rachel Avraham

According to Psychology Today, “We all know that nonhuman animals are emotional beings. There is ample data that shows that chimpanzees, elephants, and dogs suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.” For example, research has demonstrated that non-earthquake affected dogs in 2009 and 2010 had five to ten times less stress hormones than dogs that survived the earthquake in Japan in 2011. Furthermore, the New York Times has reported that 5 out of 650 military dogs deployed by US combat forces also suffer from canine post-traumatic stress disorder that can result in dogs avoiding areas they were before comfortable in and becoming unusually aggressive.

Given these facts, it should not surprise us that dogs and other animals located in Southern Israel have been suffering a lot since Operation Pillar of Defense began. A resident of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai reported, “Even cats and dogs are influenced by this situation. When Qassam rockets are falling, you can see dogs running around the kibbutz, trembling. There are also dogs that react to various noises as if they were the sound of a Qassam.” Ortal Shmueli, who lives in Be’ersheva, noted that her dog suffered anxiety when the rockets began descending on her city.

Like humans, dogs also seek out shelter when sirens go off in Southern Israel. Kineret Rozen-Adelman, a teacher from Sha’ar HaNegev, reported that her dog, Lucky, “gets up with us and runs to the shelter.” Upon entering the shelter, Lucky evidently runs in circles until the boom goes off. Only a couple of seconds after the grad lands does he calm down. Nofar Gal, who lives in Yad Mordechai, has four pets. One of the pets, a dog named Pitzy, has particularly been affected by the rocket attacks, resulting in her “perpetually crying and sleeping only in the family’s bed, as well as needing medicine to calm her nerves,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

Jesse Shalev, a resident of Givatayim, however, complained that while his dog Swarley is good at following him into the shelter, his cat, Lola, prefers to hide, which is problematic. This is especially the case when either Jesse or his wife is home alone with the animals. According to Jesse, once when his wife was alone and unable to find Lola “for an extended period of time,” his wife was not able to reach the shelter in the allotted 60 seconds. Alex Leibowitz, a resident of Ashkelon, reported that during a siren his dog barked non-stop and also prevented him and his wife from going to a shelter, although this in the end saved their lives since a rocket hit their home and because there wasn’t enough time to make it to the shelter, the rocket would have killed them in the stairwell.

Eti Altman of Let Animals Live stressed that the situation for animals in Southern Israel has become horrible and that no one has come up with a “plan B” for animals living in war zones. “They don’t know how to speak, how to complain,” she said. Let Animals Live is in the process of evacuating dogs to a shelter in Kfar Truman, but reported that if people don’t adopt these animals, there won’t be any more room for the other animals still in Southern Israel. Furthermore, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel claimed that these animals, even once in safe areas, continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.