There is a very large debate in some sects of the Jewish world about pets and how to deal with their “circumstances”. Some people believe you cannot spay or neuter a pet because it is against Torah. This leaves a huge problem in our animal world. A rescue kitty or pup is only allowed to be saved from a kennel or from being put down after they have been sterilized. This sterilization is to avoid other animals from being on the streets. Animal population control is an important way to provide security for those who already need love.
Now the big question: Why is it not okay to commit an avayrah in order to do a mitzva? Is it not a mitzva to save an animal from abuse or untimely death? Adoption of an animal is one of the highest forms of respect for G-d’s little creatures, no? The idea of opening your home from 1-20 years for another creature and providing it love and attention seems to be something the Torah would support. How is this act of kindness not over-riding the government mandated rule about adoption animals?
On the human front, we also have operations that deal with human sterilization. We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Sefer Hahinuch 291). A woman having her tubes tied is not reversible, nor is having a hysterectomy. My wonderful Jewish mother had her tubes tied the day after I was born. “Crap, look what I made! No more!!!!” Ha! A man who has surgery in health related cases can also be left sterile. The prohibitions of sterilization and marriage, however, remain independent, and therefore indispensable medical treatment that causes infertility (as with some prostate surgeries) does not impact their personal status (Tzitz Eliezer 10:25:24). However, a man can get a vasectomy and have it reversed. Think of it as the same concept of the modern tattoo. Now a man is blocking his seed from fertilization, but it does not have to be a permanent situation. It is said all males must have their sexual organs (Leviticus 22:24).
Shlomo Brody wrote a great article about dealing with animals and fertility for the Jerusalem Post. I recommend people read his article. However, we must learn that our faith has evolved with the social needs of others. Jews are now donors because we are able to save a life once we have perished. We are able to also save lives of animals. These animals deserve to be loved. My rescue cat, Phoebe, and my rescue pup, Willow, have greatly improved my quality of life and I know I have done a mitzva by providing them with a loving home. I will continue to get animals from rescues. I feel the puppy mills and pet shops are the biggest sinners. Selling animals that will eventually end up in a pound and be seen in a commercial with “Arms of an Angel” being played in the background.
Pets are a huge responsibility, but they can also be a blessing. I hope if you’re thinking of buying or adopting a pet, you take into consideration all the issues revolving around the animal. It is a huge sociological benefit to spay and neuter your pets, despite all religious debates.
Be true to the streets-