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September 22, 2015 12:10 pm

New York Jewish Woman’s Pet Dogs to Fast With Her on Yom Kippur

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

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Cheryl Degani has her dogs fast with her on Yom Kippur. Photo: Twitter.

Cheryl Degani has her dogs fast with her on Yom Kippur. Photo: Twitter.

A Jewish woman in New York said her pet dogs will be fasting along with her once Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tuesday, the New York Post reported.

“People say, ‘Are you kidding me? Are you for real?’ ” Cheryl Degani, 59, said of her decision to have her dogs fast on the Jewish Day of Atonement. “I say: I have to fast, they have to fast.”

The accountant from New City said her dogs – Shadow, a 16-pound poodle, and Custer, a 26-pound schnauze – are familiar with fasting for the Jewish holiday. She believes they understand the concept of fasting and know when Yom Kippur is coming. She said, “They know a lot. They know something [is going on].”

“I think they have a Jewish essence,” she added. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Degani, a mother of two adult children, said she was always a little more eager than others to participate in the day’s rituals while growing up in the Rockland County town of Hillcrest, explaining that she began fasting on Yom Kippur even before she reached the bat mitzvah age of 12.

Attempting to reassure concerned dog lovers, she insisted that Yom Kippur fasting would not affect her dogs’ health.

“I can leave my dogs food all day long, but if I’m not there, they’re not eating it. Dogs are social — a dog doesn’t want to eat until I get home and I’m there,” she said.

Dr. Danielle Palatt, of Brooklyn’s Vinegar Hill Veterinary Group, told the New York Post that if the dog is otherwise healthy, fasting is “probably not a huge deal.”

“Missing two meals isn’t necessarily a health risk for a healthy animal — even if they don’t understand what’s going on,” she said.

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