Switzerland Sets The Bar High by Expanding Animals’ Rights

On September 1, a new law went into effect in Switzerland, which greatly advances the rights of numerous species. The law is receiving plenty of attention around the world, with the media marveling at how far out on a limb Switzerland has gone.

Under the new law, wild fish, guinea pigs, domesticated horses, dogs and fish, and farmed pigs, sheep and goats are benefiting from regulations which, among other things, stipulate that:

• Prospective dog owners must pay for and complete a course on how to properly care for a dog
• Anglers must complete a course on more humane methods for catching fish
• Farmers may not tether horses, sheep or goats
• Farmers may not keep cows and pigs on hard surfaces
• Goldfish owners may not flush the fish down toilets, and aquariums for all fish must allow for realistic light cycles and not be transparent on all sides
• Any animal classified as a “social species” (this includes guinea pigs, goldfish and many other species traditionally kept as pets) must have contact with other members of its species

The article cited above quotes the head of the Swiss Federal Veterinary Office as stating that the reason for the law is two-part: to “ensure treatment of animals appropriate to each species, [and] also to decrease the risk of attacks by dangerous dogs [because] inappropriate treatment could lead to behavioural [sic] disorders.”

-Suzanne McMillan

2 Responses

  1. I haven’t read the text of the law and find most of its provisions positive. I do wonder about the requirement for owners to pay for “a course on how to properly care for a dog.” Perhaps in Switzerland, economic conditions equate to “no person too poor not to pay” but that wouldn’t be true here.

    Dogs are often companions for those with very limited means and it’s worth remembering that slaves were specifically, in many jurisdictions, forbidden to own dogs.

    Strong sanctions for abusing dogs (or other animals) are warranted. We have no legal requirement that anyone in this country (or as far as I know, any other country), pay for a course on feeding and caring for a child before conception (or after, for that matter, absent a finding of abuse).

  2. I have two little yorkies in switzerland and of course like normal dogs some barking takes place. Neighbors have complaint of intolerable barking. Now if out of 24 hours a day a dog is quite for 23 hours and 50 minutes, and 10 minutes (distributed along the day) they made some barking, isn’t that normal. Have dogs not right at all???? to be normal. Is there some place where I could ask for protection for my dogs.

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