Recruits call for help after army fires at stray dogs

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BEERSHEVA, Israel — At the request of an Israel Defense Force boot camp sergeant-major, rangers from the Nature Reserves Authority opened fire on a pack of stray dogs — killing two, capturing one alive and wounding another, it was reported last week.

The shooting occurred before the eyes of traumatized recruits at the Nitzanim training base who had befriended, fed and named the dogs.

One of the canines, a large mixed-breed shepherd, was hit in the back but managed to flee howling into the dunes of Nitzanim. By morning the wounded dog had crawled back to the base, which had become its home. The sergeant-major then telephoned the NRA rangers to come and finish the job, according to a spokesman for the IDF.

But soldiers who had witnessed the events quickly telephoned Let Animals Live for help. The association immediately rushed its only animal ambulance to the base; it arrived before the rangers and rescued the dog.

"The dog is OK. It is with us," said Etti Altman, head of the association.

"We know that it is against regulations to have stray dogs on army bases, but we have to find a more humane way of getting rid of them. It's inconceivable in this day and age to just shoot them down. The soldiers told us that they pumped about three or four bullets into each dog."

The IDF spokesman confirmed the incident, but said the dogs had become a nuisance and had even bitten three soldiers. The army said the dogs were "sick and aggressive."

"The dogs were hanging around the base and had even entered it this past week. Soldiers had complained that they were afraid of walking on the base," the spokesman reported.