From the Rav’s Desk: Abortions by animals-Terminating the pregnancy of a pet

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Abortions by animals-Terminating the pregnancy of a pet


My pet dog became pregnant unbeknownst to us. [We did not spay it due to the prohibition against castrating a living creature, and simply hoped that it would not mate and get pregnant.] My question is whether we can abort and terminate this unwanted pregnancy. It would be most challenging and expensive for us to care for the litter of puppies, and it would be illegal for me to abandon them once they’re born, and it’s also not so simple to get him into an animal shelter not to mention that they will charge us a fee per puppy.


It is permitted for you to terminate the pregnancy of your dog.


We do not find any explicit prohibition against aborting the fetus of an animal, and it is not relevant to the abortion prohibition relevant to human fetuses. It is likewise not relevant to the prohibition against castrating a creature, which only applies when one damages the actual reproductive organs, and not the fetus itself.

However, killing an animal fetus would be no different than any other matter of damage and pain that one causes to an animal, which is a possible biblical prohibition of Tzaar Baalei Chaim. Hence, it may only be done for a purpose, which would include for the sake of not being a nuisance or financial burden to you. Accordingly, just like you may poison an animal that is a nuisance to you, so too you may terminate a pregnancy of a pet, if the birth will be of a nuisance to you.

Sources: See regarding the prohibition of castrating any living creature: Michaber E.H. 5:11; Rambam Issurei Biyah 16:10-11; Chinuch Mitzvah 291; Shabbos 110b; Vayikra 22:24: “Ubeartzechem Lo Sasu.” See regarding the prohibition of Tzaar Baalei Chaim: Admur Hilchos Ovrei Derachim 4; Taz Y.D. 116:6; Ramban Avoda Zara 13b; Article of Rav Chaim Rappaport in Koveitz Ohalaei Torah 993-994

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