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Q & A: Help in a War-Torn Land

The group CHAI—whose name means “life” in Hebrew—is changing the way Israelis view and treat animals

The group CHAI—whose name means “life” in Hebrew—is changing the way Israelis view and treat animals

Because finding homes for pets in Israel is difficult, CHAI sometimes brings animals to the U.S. for adoption. This puppy arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was immediately adopted by CHAI member Cheri Deshe (pictured). DAVID KARP
Thousands of dogs, cats, horses, and other animals in Israel may owe their lives to one furry creature from the States. “I was raised by a cat,” says Nina Natelson, founding director of CHAI (Concern for Helping Animals in Israel). “She was a very important person in our family.”

That initial human-animal bond inspired Natelson to volunteer at her local animal shelter and then work as an activist for PETA. But it was a vacation to Israel that most altered her life and ultimately those of the animals in that country: Horrified by the rampant animal suffering she saw there, she immediately started CHAI when she flew back home.

From ending mass strychnine poisoning of dogs and cats to saving work horses from being hacked to death with axes for food to rescuing animals under the cover of night during the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, CHAI has been helping animals in that war-torn country for more than 20 years.

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