02. Animals and Carrying

As we have seen, one must allow animals to rest on Shabbat. This includes making sure that one’s animal does not enter a semipublic (karmelit) or public domain with a burden on its back. However, not everything an animal carries is defined as a burden. Just as one may enter a different domain wearing his clothes because they are secondary to his body, so too a donkey suffering from the cold may be taken outside wearing a pack saddle that is meant to warm it. Other animals, though, which do not suffer from the cold, may not be taken outside with a saddle (SA 305:7). Similarly, a dog that is wrapped in an article of clothing may not be taken outside. Since it does not truly need this, the clothing is considered a burden. If one is not taking the dog outside, one may dress it, as there is no prohibition to carry in a private domain.

One may take out an animal that is wearing a bandage to protect an injury or a sheep that is wearing a cover designed to keep its wool from getting dirty. This is on condition that they are tightly bound to the animal, with no possibility that they will fall off, thus ensuring that no one will end up carrying them in a semipublic or public domain (SA 305:6). One may not take out an animal with a muzzle that is meant to prevent the animal from grazing in other people’s fields. This is because the muzzle is not worn for the animal’s sake, but for the sake of the fields’ owners (SA 305:11).

One may not lead an animal with a bell around its neck, as doing so generates sound, and it is rabbinically prohibited to generate sound with an object specifically designed for this purpose, such as a musical instrument. However, if the bell is silenced and makes no sound, the animal may be led around in a private domain but not a public domain. If the animal were to be led around in a public domain, it would seem like it was being taken to market for sale (Shabbat 53a and 54b; MB 305:42-43). The bell itself is not considered a burden as it is secondary to the animal’s halter.

One may take out a horse wearing a bridle or a donkey wearing a halter since these items are used to direct the animals and to prevent them from running away. However, a donkey may not be taken out wearing a bridle, as this would be an excessive precaution, far more than is necessary to ensure that the donkey will not run away. The general principle is that anything normally used to ensure that an animal will not run away is not considered a burden, but anything excessive is considered a burden (SA 305:1; MB ad loc. 8).

A dog may be allowed out in a public domain wearing its collar, because that is the normal way for it to go out since it allows one to restrain the dog if necessary by grabbing its collar or attaching a leash to it (SA 305:5; MB ad loc. 12). The person holding the leash is not considered carrying the leash, since it is secondary to the dog’s body. However, he must take care to grasp the leash within a tefaĥ of its end. He also must make sure that the leash does not droop to within a tefaĥ of the ground at any point. If either of these things happens, it looks like he is carrying the leash. If the leash is too long, he may wrap it around the dog’s neck so it is less likely to droop (SA 305:16).

A blind person may enter a public domain with a seeing-eye dog, even though he is holding the harness attached to the dog. Since the harness is always attached to the dog, it is secondary to its body, and there is no problem of carrying. (Although Orĥot Shabbat 31:17 is stringent, it seems reasonable to permit, as explained in Harĥavot; this is also the position of Mikveh Ha-mayim 4:39; Menuĥat Ahava 3:27:49; and Yalkut Yosef 305:59.)

A dog may be taken out into a public domain wearing dog tags connected to its collar or ear and on which is engraved the name of the dog’s owner. The tags make it clear that the dog has an owner, and thus people are more likely to leave it alone.[1]


[1]. AHS 305:5 forbids taking out a dog wearing dog tags as a sign for people to leave it alone. He brings a proof from the rule that forbids taking out roosters wearing strings as a similar sign to people (SA 305:17). However, SSK ch. 27 n. 34 cites R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as permitting it, since this sign is for the dog’s benefit and protection. In contrast, if the goal is simply to avoid paying a fine, the dog tags are prohibited. It would also seem that if the sign is permanently attached to the animal’s collar, then it is secondary to the collar and is not considered a burden, as explained in Tosafot, Shabbat 54b, s.v. “mishum”; MA 305:6; and Eliya Rabba.According to Rashi and Ran, one may take out a dog or other animal with a collar whose purpose is solely decorative, on condition that doing so is the common practice. Tosafot and Rabbeinu Yeruĥam maintain that if the collar does not serve a protective purpose, it is forbidden. Baĥ rules stringently (MA 305:1; MB ad loc. 12).

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