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The World’s Best City for Man’s Best Friend

The World’s Best City for Man’s Best Friend

September 1, 2016

Social Sciences & Humanities

JTA — Home to 30,000 dogs to its 413,000 people, Tel Aviv claims to be the friendliest city in the world for dogs, with the most dogs per capita. But what is it about Tel Aviv that makes it so enamored with man’s best friend? Two BGU doctoral candidates have an idea.

“We still have a very strong memory of our collectivist past, and dogs help us cope with the loneliness of the postmodern present,” says Orit Hirsch-Matsioulas, who is studying at BGU’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

“We opened the apartment door to dogs and made them part of the family. People understand their dogs as their own children.”

A man rides a bicycle with his dogs running alongside. June 18, 2015. Photo by Miriam Alster/FLASH90

A Tel Aviv man rides a bicycle with his dogs running alongside. Photo: Miriam Alster/FLASH90

In addition, Tel Aviv’s liberal culture promotes activism for causes like animal rights, as seen in the high ratio of veganism as compared to other cities in the world.

“People think we can’t really do anything about all the horrible things that are going on around us,” says Dafna Shir-Vertesh, who is studying human-animal relations at BGU. “But maybe animal rights is our way of making a change in the world.”

Dog ownership can also be a way for secular Tel Avivians to distinguish themselves from ultra-Orthodox Jews for whom there are traditional taboos against dog ownership, according to Shir-Vertesh.

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