One Woman Fights to Save the Biblical Canaan Dog

If Myrna Shiboleth is evicted, the breed's fate looks grim
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2012 2:15 PM CDT
Canaan dog.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – Israel's Canaan dog has survived from ancient times until now, but the primitive breed is in danger of disappearing, the Washington Post reports. "When they talk about dogs in the Bible, it was these," says Myrna Shiboleth, who has been breeding Canaan dogs since the '60s. "It was the same dog." But now Shiboleth's Sha’ar Hagai Kennels is in danger of being evicted by the government because of confusion over the land the operation has occupied for more than 40 years. Thousands of people have signed an online petition supporting Shiboleth, but if she is evicted, the Canaan dog is in danger of dying out.

Many Canaan dogs—a "pariah" breed in Israel that many see as a nuisance—were killed in rabies eradication programs, leaving just a few hundred in the Negev desert, sometimes living in or at the edges of Bedouin camps. Sha’ar Hagai Kennels has been breeding the dogs, making sure to keep the gene pool strong by trekking out to the desert every few years for new mates, and shipping them around the world. Today there are 2,000 to 3,000 in European, North American, Russian, and South African households, but if Shiboleth—the only person regularly introducing new bloodlines into the breeding pool—is shut down, the breed could "fade into history," says an expert.

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