No animal lawyers in Switzerland

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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