CHAI’s 10-year campaign to get cart hjorses banned from the streets of Tel Aviv achieved success last week when the city announced that it has banned the practice. From 1999, when Tel Aviv officials refused to take action in response to CHAI’s complaints about the problem of abused horses in the city, CHAI rescued and rehabilitated severely abused horses to raise awareness of the plight of these animals, demanding routine inspections and licensing.
Shai and Shabbat doing very well

Shai and Shabbat doing very well


In 2001 — CHAI’s sister charity in Israel, Hakol Chai, made an undercover video of the killings of a horrendous animal abuser, which was screened on TV and the business was permanently closed down in 2003.  When the city continued to refuse to investigate the condition of other horses in the city and remove those being abused from their abusers, Hakol Chai called for a complete ban.


April 2005 — Hakol Chai’s attorney wrote to the Ministry of Transportation and Mayors of cities around Israel, urging them to ban the practice of horses pulling heavy carts. Cart horse owners began to lobby the Mayor’s office to prevent the enactment of a ban, so the Mayor was reluctant to take action.1984_resize
Hakol Chai and CHAI organized an international letter-writing campaign, asking that appeals be sent to the Chairperson of the Education, Culture, and Sports Committee in the Knesset, the Minister of Education, Culture, and Sports, the Minister of Transportation, and the Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, asking them to ban the use of horse-drawn carts to haul heavy loads through busy city streets.
 In 2007, Hakol Chai made presentations in Tel Aviv schools to raise awareness among students about the suffering of cart horses and the need to protest against their treatment. At an annual conference for Tel Aviv schools participating in the “Breakthrough” program, in which students worked to make a difference on a social or environmental problem of their choosing, students of the Democratic School showed a film shot by Hakol Chai documenting the horse/donkey abuse problem in the city and promoted the cart horse case to a panel of local authorities, including the Tel Aviv municipal veterinarian.  Hakol Chai mounted posters throughout Jaffa, where these animals are used as beasts of burden, announcing “A horse is not a truck! Hundreds of miserable horses and donkeys live around us. Don’t be indifferent! If you see a horse or donkey in distress, demand that the city act!”  December 2007 — For the first time, as a result of Hakol Chai’s campaign, the Tel Aviv City Council called a special session to address the problem of horse abuse in the city. Tel Aviv’s municipal veterinarian agreed with Hakol Chai that abuse cannot be prevented through regulations, especially since the city had neither the funds to regularly inspect the horses, nor a facility to house them if they removed them from their abusers. Still, the Mayor refused to ban the practice, saying he would make greater efforts to enforce existing regulations. 
Hakol Chai activists demonstrated, joined by the Green Party and other organizations.

At the end of 2008, CHAI / Hakol Chai’s campaign in Israel became part of an international coalition of organizations throughout the world called Horses Without Carriages International, seeking to end horse-drawn carts and carriages.


  June 2009 — Hakol Chai staged a civil disobedience demonstration at the entrance to City Hall, carrying signs saying “Horses and donkeys are not vehicles,” “Animals are not cars,” “Carriages and carts are a dead trend,” “They’re hurting; don’t you care?” and “Stop Animal Abuse”. The protesters distributed hundreds of pamphlets explaining the plight of the horses to pedestrians on one of the city’s busiest streets and to city employees. 

 November 2009 — Tel Aviv’s Mayor, at long last, banned horse-drawn carts from the city.

CHAI’s Director, Nina Natelson said: “We are pleased that, at long last, there will no longer be sights of thin, injured, beaten cart horses in Tel Aviv, and we will continue pressing Mayors of other cities in Israel to issue similar bans.”



CHAI – Concern for Helping Animals in Israel
PO Box 3341, Alexandria, VA 22302

Nina Natelson.    Email:

Tikvah after rescue

Tikvah means hope. Notice that his color changed from brown to black after he was properly nourished. The swelling around his ankles will always be there, but it calcified and doesn’t hurt him. It is the result of being tied at the ankles for long periods of time so he wouldn’t run away.


Shabbat – who was rescued on a Saturday – was 250 pounds underweight, scarred from beatings and an ill-fitting harness, had nails driven into the soft part of his feet to attach wooden crosses so he wouldn’t slip on the pavement when carrying heavy loads. He was in such a bad way that the farrier treated him free for a year and the Vet School contributed free x-rays and tests and used him as a teaching horse  – for the students to learn what happens to these horses when they are abused in various ways. Photos of him today show him even better and with a contented look on his face. He is 25 years old now!

At the top of this report, more recent photos of Shabbat show him with another horse we rescued, whom the American woman who boards them for us named Shai. It means something like saved by charity. Shai was kept in a dark, dirty shed. He had been bought by some teenagers and they were racing him and providing no veterinary care. He injured his foot and it became infected, but they continued to ride him. He was in very bad shape when we got him.

 Many thanks, Nina, for telling us these horses’ stories – and for the excellent work CHAI is doing in Israel.