No animal lawyers in Switzerland

March 8th, 2010 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

I saw this article in the Telegraph:

All of the 26 Swiss cantons on Sunday voted against the proposal by animal rights activists to extend nationwide a system already in place in Zurich.

Overall, just 29.5 per cent of voters were in favour. In seven cantons the “No” vote was more than 80 per cent. …

If citizens had voted for the initiative, each canton would have appointed a lawyer to act on behalf of animals at taxpayers’ expense.

The canton of Zurich has had its own animal lawyer since 1992. Antoine Goetschel’s clients include dogs, cats, guinea pigs, farm animals and, recently, a large pike.

“It took 10 minutes of struggle to reel the pike in before killing it. I regard that as cruelty. If someone had done that to a puppy, there would have been outrage,” he said.

“People accused of animal cruelty very often hire lawyers to defend themselves. Why shouldn’t someone speak for the animal as well? It’s about fairness and defending a minority.”

I await the Green Party proposal here. It turns out has extremely detailed laws on animals:

Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos.

From guinea-pigs to budgerigars, any animal classified as a “social species” will be a victim of abuse if it does not cohabit, or at least have contact, with others of its own kind.

The new regulation stipulates that aquariums for pet fish should not be transparent on all sides and that owners must make sure that the natural cycle of day and night is maintained in terms of light. Goldfish are considered social animals, or Gruppentiere in German.

So if you don’t turn out the lights at night for your goldfish, you might be in court!

Anglers will also be required to complete a course on catching fish humanely, with the Government citing studies indicating that fish can suffer too.

The regulations will affect farmers, who will no longer be allowed to tether horses, sheep and goats, nor keep pigs and cows in areas with hard floors.

The legislation even mentions the appropriate keeping of rhinoceroses, although it was not clear immediately how many, if any, were being kept as pets in Switzerland.

If you have a rhinoceros, I suspect you go to some lengths to keep it happy!

It gets even better. Switzerland even has a law to protect the dignity of plants:

Over a decade ago, an amendment was added to the Swiss constitution in order to defend the dignity of all creatures — including vegetation — against unwanted repercussions of genetic engineering. The amendment was turned into law and is known as the Gene Technology Act. However the law itself didn’t say anything specific about plants, until recently, when the law was amended to include them. …

Recently, the Swiss Parliament asked a panel of philosophers, lawyers, geneticists and theologians to determine the meaning of dignity when it pertains to plants.

Lo and Behold, the team published a treatise on “the moral consideration of plants for their own sake.” The treatise established that vegetation has innate value and that it is morally wrong to partake in activities such as the “decapitation of wildflowers at the roadside without rational reason.”

Okay everyone you have been warned. Any more decapitation of flowers, and you’ll be prosecuted.

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43 Responses to “No animal lawyers in Switzerland”

  1. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    Does the kangaroo being eaten by the snake in the previous post get a lawyer?

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  2. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    Does the tag “Political correctness” refer to

    (1) the proposed state-appointed animal lawyers? or
    (2) legal standards for proper care of animals? or
    (3) legal standards for maintaining the dignity of plants?

    I want to be very clear about what is being belittled in this post. (I have no problem with 2; 1 and 3 seem a bit silly to me.)

    Last time animal welfare was discussed here, I recall there was a major inconsistency between general reader acceptance of:
    (1) Killing a marlin by a process of (a) hook in mouth for 2 hours followed by (b) suffocation, vs
    (2) Killing a dog by a process of (a) hook in mouth for 2 hours followed by (b) drowning.

    Therefore I am not surprised that requirements for healthy lighting for indoor fish is seen as a bit of a joke here.

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  3. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Under a new Swiss law enshrining rights for animals, dog owners will require a qualification, anglers will take lessons in compassion and horses will go only in twos.
    Can we bring in qualifications for breeding children?

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  4. david (2,557 comments) says:

    david@tokyo, no but the snake does.

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  5. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    This is a wind up, please tell me it isn’t so. I have had reservations for years that vegetarians and vegans have not given the food they consume due process and have not slaughtered the fruit and vegies in a humane way or should that be put down in stead of slaughtered..

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  6. david (2,557 comments) says:

    well gd, it is possibly what you get by an “increased participation in the democracy”. Look at how NZ social policy has skewed under MMP with the tail wagging the dog, look at the advancement of green policies and the nutbar outcomes when vocal minorities get a toehold on power.

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  7. kowtow (8,512 comments) says:

    Just more examples of traditional common sense being replaced by legislation.

    One really does have to wonder how we got to this.

    Holland has parliamentarians sitting for an animal rights party.!!!

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  8. RRM (9,932 comments) says:

    ^^^ traditional common sense says don’t murder your neighbour too. But that does not mean legislation outlawing homicide is unnecessary.

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  9. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    My female cat has just visited the police and kindly had a protection order placed on the nasty Tom Cat who bonked her crazy then left her for a younger feline. I do feel for the officer who tried to serve the Court Order on Boris the Brut, as he scratched him so bad he had to use a taser on the offender. Bloody hell, now all the other Toms are gathering for a revenge attack.

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  10. spector (180 comments) says:

    Seriously though, how’s our free ranged NZ beef and lamb exports to Switzerland? Surely we should send Tim Grosser over there to take advantage of these crazy laws.

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  11. Sonny Blount (1,783 comments) says:

    I hope the Green Party take up RRM’s position of supporting legislation for aquarium lighting. There will be no way they cross the 5% threshold if they do.

    One of the lessons communism has given us is that private owners have far more concern for the things they own than a public body will.

    The reason we have laws against homicide and mistreatment of animals in only some circumstances is because the law is written in response to real life events. Until someone can bring forward a suitably horrendous case of goldfish abuse (ie offends the majority, which I suspect bad lighting will not), we don’t need to waste time with laws.

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  12. Put it away (2,878 comments) says:

    RRM – I’m glad you can see that political correctness is belittling to those who practice it. If only you could make the leap of logic to stop being politically correct…

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  13. Viking2 (11,484 comments) says:

    Well Tourism NZ should hop on AIRNZ and get over there to sell to all those non PC hunters and gatherers who still like to catch the odd fish. We could sell PC apple picking to recruit friendly apple pickers and of course the grape pickers who must of course have small hands. (well Lockwood said that was good.”)

    Gees nearly forgot. What about the plant pickers, you know the smoky weed types, I mean holy smoke they will need lessons in how to pick their buds without harming or causing unnecessary stress to the plant. Make a note. Call Philu for advice.

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  14. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    > david@tokyo, no but the snake does.

    That’s a relief then…

    No one ever complains about whales indiscriminately killing krill either. Poor krill.

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  15. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Jeeeeez! – what we need is a good war – with millions killed and starved and tortured – that might get these idiots to start thinking straight and to re-establish their priorities.

    Lawyers for animals – what next.

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  16. francis (712 comments) says:

    this is SO funny. Shame it’s all true!

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  17. noodle (151 comments) says:

    Humans have no scarcity value. That’s the thing. The world seems to be over-run by people with no intrinsic value or worth, and who think that they are more important than other species{ if they think at all}
    For myself, I would rather see a rare creature surviving than a pointless peasant killing one.

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  18. Sonny Blount (1,783 comments) says:

    And the thing that makes nature beautiful is survival of the fittest, greenies seem to not have the mental capacity to reconcile this simple fact.

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  19. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    From whom does the laywer take instructions, or perhaps more importantly, who pays the fees? Kitty litter as security for costs? This is why Helen’s dogged (sorry about the legally unrepresented pun) admiration for things European was sorely misplaced.

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  20. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    this months’ award for an opinion drenched in self-interest/defence/justification..and ignorance..there..?..mr farrar..?

    my understanding is the reason this referendum failed..is that a raft of strict new animal rights laws have recently been passed in switzerland..with overwhelming public support..(67% from memory..)

    ..and these have not had time yet to be fully implemented/bedded-in..

    ..and this is why this latest c.i.r failed..

    and yes..the abominable cruelties our ‘farmers’ perpetrate on ‘their’ animals..as ‘standard-industry-practice’..

    would see them in court in switzerland ..on animal cruelty charges..

    (and as an aside..switzerland also has one of the most civilised/successful programs for treating heroin addicts..

    ..and with nary a police-person in sight..

    ..but i guess you would sneer at that also..?..mr farrar..?

    ..the very idea of ‘giving heroin to heroin addicts’..eh..?..

    ..no matter how successful in practice..?..eh..?..)

    face it mr farrar..that you are yourself addicted to animal flesh/fat/blood/entrails..does colour your view on such issues..eh..?

    ‘cos..if you admitted those cruelties..you would have to start questioning your own actions/addictions..

    ..eh..?

    and that ain’t easy…

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz0

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  21. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    @Philu: I take it you’re a vegan, or are you just a vegetarian?

    Do you believe that humans are animals?
    Do you place humans above other animals, or on the same level?
    Do you realise that animals are a good and relatively abundant source of protein, especially where farmed?
    Do you believe that cannibalism being illegal is either in human society’s and/or more your own interest?
    How do you feel about, say, cats eating birds and playing with (torturing) their food before they eat it?

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  22. david@tokyo (263 comments) says:

    JiveKitty, actually no real need to farm animals. You can take them from the wild too but you just need to be careful no to overdo things or they’ll go the way of the dodo and the moa. In this day and age it’s certainly something we can handle though, if we have the will to do so. Unfortunately… politicians don’t, always…

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  23. Hugh Manatee (108 comments) says:

    Sonny – “Until someone can bring forward a suitably horrendous case of goldfish abuse (ie offends the majority, which I suspect bad lighting will not), we don’t need to waste time with laws.”

    Same for muesling sheep I guess, Sonny. No problem (slicing skin from the sheeps backside) until ‘the public’ notices. Problem is, ‘the public’ didn’t know and it took a lot of exposure until they/we saw how cruel it was.
    Same issue with the goldfish, perhaps. Most people haven’t considered the issue. Had you? Do you know the facts yet? The Swiss may well have looked at the issue and discovered something that you don’t know. Or do you know instinctively, that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week illumination isn’t harmful to tank fish. Are you a piscologist?

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  24. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..@Philu: I take it you’re a vegan, or are you just a vegetarian?..”

    vegan..

    ‘Do you believe that humans are animals?.’.

    um..depending on yr definition of ‘animal’..but yes..

    ‘Do you place humans above other animals, or on the same level?..’

    if ‘placing above’ means i believe we have the right to imprison/mistreat/kill and eat them..i guess my answer would be..more or less equal..

    ‘Do you realise that animals are a good and relatively abundant source of protein, especially where farmed?’..

    yes..but the fact they are ‘a source of protein’..(protein easily available without eating animal flesh)..is certainly not any compelling reason to imprison/mistreat/eat them..imho..

    ‘Do you believe that cannibalism being illegal is either in human society’s and/or more your own interest?’

    unsure of the relevance of this question to this debate..but my answer wd be..for both reasons..

    and those same reasons apply to the case of eating animals..

    it is bad for them..it is bad for us..it is bad for the environment/planet..

    in fact..if you could..cd u give me one reason..(aside from the protein imperative)..why we should have the ‘right’ to imprison/mistreat/kill/eat..

    ..other sentient beings/’animals’..?

    ‘..How do you feel about, say, cats eating birds and playing with (torturing) their food before they eat it?..

    i m also puzzled by the relevance of this question to this debate..

    ..but..fwiw..i actually think cats cause (almost0 as much environmental damage as humans..

    ..and much as i like/enjoy them on a one-to-one basis..i am horrified by the carnage they cause on our bird-life…

    ..(seeing as you asked..)

    thanks for your questions..

    please feel free to ask any more..

    i am more than happy to explain/argue the strengths of the we-shouldn’t-really-eat-animals case..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  25. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and re yr vegan question..?

    least you think vegans are weak/effete types..

    this could be an eye-opener for you..

    http://whoar.co.nz/2010/gladiators-were-vegan-video/

    and did you know that as part of their preperations before going into battle..

    ..the roman army wd switch to a strict vegan diet..?

    whoar..!..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  26. Willie_Escaped (29 comments) says:

    This reminds me of that uproar over the picture of the polar bear killing a cub – supposedly due to global warming and a subsequent lack of food.

    Which is of course complete nonsense. Male mammals kill the offspring of other males.

    It seems to me, that a lot of these environutters, either due to blissful ignorance or wilful evasion, have no concept of the torturous and horrific brutality of that natural world.

    Every day in the wilderness, after suffering a painful life infested with intestinal parasites and external fungal and bacterial growth, tens of thousands of female mammals get eaten alive by predators.

    And while they feel their guts torn from their stomach, the last experience of reality they having is watching their children – that are products of brutal rape – have their heads eaten off by other predators from the same hunting pack.

    That is the natural world. It’s gruesome and inexplicably cruel.

    Generally, being an animal in human captivity is animal paradise, relative to their other options.

    I get the feeling it would cost taxpayers less if we make Animal Planet and Nat Geo free, and force these environutters to watch a few hours a day.

    Perhaps after a few years they’ll allow themselves to see the unfortunate realities of existence.

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  27. beautox (422 comments) says:

    Well now that plants have feelings I guess vegans are gonna have to eat rocks and sand. I think phool has started already as there are surely rocks in his head.

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  28. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..Generally, being an animal in human captivity is animal paradise, relative to their other options…”

    tell that to the pigs..!..darling..!

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  29. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    I can just imagine the Animal Police.

    “You have the right to seasoning, perhaps a light marinade”

    As an aside – I see references here to Philu. Since I installed Firefox and blocked his posts my Kiwiblog experience has grown. I had nearly forgotten about him :)

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  30. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    no smaller..(heh..!..’smaller’..)..by definition it must have shrunk..

    ..that ‘kiwkiblog experience’..

    ..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  31. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Just curious as to your responses Philu. I’ve asked myself those questions and come to different conclusions. Humans are animals. Many animals have tendencies to consume other animals, and some of them do not engage in their consumption in a particularly “nice” way (ie, cats playing with their food before consuming). It is logical to have a prohibition on eating other humans because there is a societal interest and a self-preservation matter. Same as for farming and containment here. Humans are biologically omnivores, and therefore have predispositions to eat both meat and plant matter. As humans are animals and neither above nor below, I do not expect them to act particularly different to other animals. There are certain matters of empathy, and I would rather eat free-range (and organic for that matter) where possible, but if I were not at my own house and for example having dinner, I would not expect others to serve food with free-range goods. Were vegetarians/vegans, or people who only eat free-range, at my house for dinner I would cook to their preferences. I also don’t consume a lot of meat for matters of price and variety. With regard to rights, outside society rights by their very nature cannot exist, in the sense that rights are bestowed, so rights can only exist within society. As it is, the rights that are given by society are the right to eat meat. It seems, however, that the right to mistreat animals raised for consumption (disregarding their confinement and purpose) is slowly being phased out. But as someone who is neither vegan nor vegetarian, I have thought about my food choices and I suspect DPF may have as well, although again in the context of his beliefs which are probably different to yours.

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  32. Yvette (2,822 comments) says:

    At what point does a bunch of spring onions die? Stock: cattle, pigs, sheep are reasonably obvious, but are Woolworths produce staff prolonging unknown pain amongst vegetables they spray with water to revive and keep them ‘fresh’ or have veges given up the ghost by then?

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  33. Jaime Raine (43 comments) says:

    I am a vegan. Why take something we don’t need from them, when they suffer so greatly to provide it? JiveKitty – it is not essential to our health and wellbeing to consume animal products. Humans can thrive perfectly on a vegan diet (for more information see http://www.vegansociety.co.nz). It is not illegal to eat meat therefore it’s up to individual citizens to choose whether or not they wish to do so, but the only excuse is that it gratifies your taste buds – on every other ground, health, environmental, animal welfare, etc. There is no real justification.

    “Because other animals do it”, is hardly a good argument. Other animals also murder each other – it doesn’t mean we ought to as well.

    “Because plants feel pain”, is also a scientifically ignorant argument, considering plants do not have the same nerve endings and sentience as mammals.

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  34. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    “Because plants feel pain”, is also a scientifically ignorant argument, considering plants do not have the same nerve endings and sentience as mammals.

    You are just saying that to assuage your conscience. A living thing is a living thing. Chopping down a mighty redwood kills it just as dead as cutting brocolli or blowing the head of a nice fallow deer does to those lliving organisms. And anyway, everytime you vegans murder a plant Gaia cries.

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  35. James (1,338 comments) says:

    “but the only excuse is that it gratifies your taste buds – on every other ground, health, environmental, animal welfare, etc. There is no real justification.”

    I eat meat because I enjoy it….period.It is my right as it is yours to pursue my own happiness.

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  36. James (1,338 comments) says:

    Well now that plants have feelings I guess vegans are gonna have to eat rocks and sand. I think phool has started already as there are surely rocks in his head.

    Oh….so the poor old rocks and the sand are to be nothing more than fodder for you apes huh?

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  37. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    Isn’t the fact that it’s a relatively abundant, relatively cheap and relatively easy to cultivate and acquire as a source of protein a reasonable argument? And as I’ve said, it is rational for human society to put measures in place to protect itself (re: murder) and the individuals within. There is no real justification for you, but there is to many others. My point was that I have thought about it and its consumption fits with my values. Far be it for me to impose my values upon you. I do, however, suggest that an assumption that those of us who do eat meat have not considered it ethically or otherwise is a poor one.

    My point re: other animals is that if we consider ourselves on the same level as other animals why would we expect those of our species to refrain from doing what other animals do? In the cases where it harms our society and individual preservation there is an incentive for society to try to curb our instincts with regard to other humans, but there is not really an incentive to curb them with relation to other animals, except on an empathy level. But with regard to empathy, the majority of people struggle to employ it with those of different cultures/situations, let alone other animals except in extreme cases, so the social incentive is not there. (This is a buffer of disconnect and/or removal in order that we can function in our everyday lives, I think: something like that. The closer a circumstance is to the individual, the harder it is to buffer.)

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  38. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..It seems, however, that the right to mistreat animals raised for consumption (disregarding their confinement and purpose) is slowly being phased out…”

    what/where is your evidence for this..?

    i see just the opposite..

    (proposed factory-farming in the mackenzie basin being one of the more recent manifestations of this..

    the institutional abuse meeted out to pigs and chickens are just two arguments that fly in the face of yr claims of things getting better..eh..?..)

    cd u plse cite yr evidence for that point of view/claim..?

    and of course..jive-kitty..the arguments you proffer are only echoes of the historical abolitionist debate around slavery..

    funny that..!..eh..?

    (and we all know how that ended..eh..?..)

    we will prevail..eh..?

    we are but one or two clear/undeniable cancer-causing-examples ..and a warming planet ..away from a sea-change in dietary habits..

    eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  39. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..My point re: other animals is that if we consider ourselves on the same level as other animals why would we expect those of our species to refrain from doing what other animals do?..”

    a tad ‘simplistic’…?..that hoary old one..?..there..jive-kitty..?

    “..The closer a circumstance is to the individual, the harder it is to buffer.”

    i will agree with you there..hence the disconnect from the pain/suffering drenched meat most people buy/eat..

    ..with nary a qualm..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  40. dad4justice (8,238 comments) says:

    Before the men in white coats grab phool I would like to say that I would like a Steak Medium Rare thanks lickspittle tree hugger grip stick.

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  41. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “..My evidence for this would be the campaigns against such things, and furthermore the fact that a supermarket such has Pak n Save now only carries eggs which are SPCA approved – all cage-free, right?..”

    um..!..’cage-free’ is often only marginally better..as it involves packing them all into indoor spaces..

    and ‘spca-approved’..?

    that’s a slippery slope..eh..?

    ‘cos all of the 260,000+ animals experimented on in new zealand..each and every year..are done with the ‘approval’ of the spca..

    (whoar..!..eh..?

    and..i don’t know if they still do..but the spca had a nice little side-earner going in selling dogs etc to the vivisectors..to be experimented on ..

    how do i know this..?

    i know this because..many years ago..i liberated a dog from a couriouur van..that had been sold by the spca to an experiment-lab/vivisectors in wellington..

    instead of having a short/painful life..said dog lived to be 14 years old..

    so..to me..’spca-approved’..has a macabre-ring to it..

    (and..)

    “..Regardless, my major point still remains that many of those who eat meat and dairy have given consideration to their habits and come to different conclusions because they have different beliefs/predispositions/ethics/morality..”

    substitute ‘own slaves’ for ‘eat meat and dairy’..

    ..and you couldn’t have a more telling ‘echo-argument’..eh..?

    (and..)

    “..As far as I can recall, soy products aren’t necessarily eco-friendly. .”

    most soy is grown to be fed to animals..

    ..(so they can pre-digest it for humans..?..perchance..?..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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