If an animal is hurt on the shabbat, are we required to save its life? If I find an animal in a pit on shabbat, am I required to lift it out? If there is a fire on shabbat, should we save our pets?
However, one is allowed to handle the animal, i.e. to pick it up or to relive it of pain etc. One is also allowed aid a non-Jew to deal with the animal. It is also allowed to perform things which are prohibited specifically because they are medically related (SSK 27:54-6). However, it is advisable to ask a Rabbinic authority if a specific case comes up, because these Halachot are complicated and some Poskim seemed to allow certain Rabbinic prohibitions under certain circumstances (see SSK 27, note 166, 168).
In these laws there is no difference between saving the life of an animal or stopping a leaving pain (See SSK 27, note 98).
1 The English edition of SSK (Feldheim, Vol. II) reads as follows:
a. Except as mentioned below, one may not, in treating an animal, perform any act which is forbidden on Shabbath or Yom Tov, even if it is only the subject of Rabbinical prohibition.
b. One may, for the purpose of providing an animal with medical treatment, move an object which is muktzeh.
c. 1) As will be seen in Chapter 34 (in particular, paragraph 3 there), the Rabbis restricted the taking of medicine or medical treatment by human being on Shabbath or Yom Tov.
These special restrictions do not apply to the treatments of animals.
One may, therefore,
a) feed medicine to an animal,
b) administer an intramuscular injection to an animal and
c) put ointment on an animal's wound.
- One must be careful, however, not to spread the ointment, in the view of what is stated in a above.
- d. In general, one should take the advice of a properly qualified rabbi as to what one may or may not do for an animal.