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Pets on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Rabbi Jonathan Blass3 Kislev 5763
1613
Question
We recently acquired a dog as a pet. What is the halacha regarding handling the dog, or other pets for that matter, on Shabbat and Yom Tov? Can we walk the dog on a leash? Can we even put a leash on the dog? Why, on these days, can’t other Jews touch or handle a dog (or pet) that isn’t theirs? We live within an Eruv. In addition, our backyard is completely fenced in.
Answer
You can walk the dog on a leash on Shabbat. Catching a stray dog is hunting and therefore forbidden on Shabbat. In general, lifting any animal is problematic on Shabbat because animals as such are defined as “Muktza”. It is permitted however if it is to prevent the animal’s suffering - ”Tzaar Baalei Chayim” (Shulchan Aruch 308, 39- 40). HaRav Moshe Feinstein permits lifting or moving an animal who is just a pet - not a watchdog, for example (Iggrot Moshe Orach Chayim 5, 22, [21]).
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