Swiss Residents Vote ‘No’ for Animal Lawyers
There is no justice for abused animals living in Switzerland—well, at least not enough justice, according to some.
A vote conducted in the country showed that 70.5% of the voters did not support a proposal that would allow abused animals to have their own lawyers. Only 29.5% backed the proposal, with a 45% turnout. Currently, there is such a system in place in Zurich, but unfortunately, hopes of making that system a nationwide thing have been dashed.
The proposal comes at a time when animal right advocates believe current Swiss animal welfare laws aren’t being reinforced. The nation actually has a 160-page animal protection law, which covers all types of animals. Portions of the law range from discussing how certain animals cannot be left alone (pigs, budgies and goldfish) to how dog owners must take a training course to learn about proper pet care. It also includes the typical forbidding of killing animals for fun or in a cruel way.
Even with such a strict and lengthy set of animal protection laws, citizens still seem to get off with a slap on the wrist. For example: earlier this year, a woman beheaded 4 chickens and placed those heads on the doorstep of her love rival. She only received a 90-day suspended sentence. Those who voted against the proposal, such as farmers’ groups and the government, believe existing laws are sufficient and the idea of animal lawyers would be expensive for taxpayers. Though, obviously this isn’t quite the case.
Fortunately for the animals, there is at least one animal lawyer in the country. Antoine F. Goetschel, the only animal lawyer in Zurich, represents between 150-200 animals per year in the city. Most of his clients are cats, cows and dogs, with cases ranging from intentional wounding to the raping of these animals. He claims that if the proposal went into effect, it would have cost each person less than 1 Swiss franc ($1 USD) per year.
I certainly don’t blame animal rights advocates for being irked about losing the vote. Yes, Switzerland may have an extremely strict set of laws when it comes to animal care and animal protection. However, those laws aren’t exactly much use in having if the offenders go without being properly punished for their crimes.
By Heidi Marshall