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Kudos to Switzerland

Story ID:5822
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Zurich - Switzerland
Year:2010
Person:Antoine Goetschel
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How happy I was to read that Switzerland is a caring nation when it comes
to its animals. It has a thorough 160-page animal protection law. This governs
everything from how much space owners must give their gerbils to the water
temperature for frogs. It stipulates that social animals such as pigs and birds
have companions and that horses and cows get regular exercise. It requires
that guardians of dogs take a training course on pet care. And of course the
law forbids cruelty and abuse.

We have an Animal Welfare Act which often is meaningless and largely ignored
and unenforced. If the USDA and its veternarian board of advisers think it is
wrong for CAFO owners of battery chickens to dispose of unwanted male chicks
by putting them ALIVE through a grinder - why aren't these people prosecuted?
Obviously, the answer is that the USDA sees nothing wrong with this barbarism
and it has become an approved practice despite many in the animal rights groups
writing their letters of complaint many years ago. Why is this allowed to go on?

I also just recently read about the USDA inspector who felt he was just doing
his job by closing down a slaughter plant in Vermont on the 3 days he witnessed
abuse to calves. Did he receive approval and applaud from the USDA? Hardly,
they brought him in to indoctrinate him on "correct" procedures which allows
this cruelty to go unchecked. This failure of the USDA to protect our slaughter
animals is not new. Again, many of us complained years ago to the USDA re
their poor humane enforcement standards and of course to no avail.

Re Switzerland -sadly despite having some of the toughest animal rights laws in
the world, they recently rejected a new law which would have appointed free
lawyers to represent animals in abuse cases.

Zurich has the only court apointed animal rights lawyer. Had this new law
passed, it would have added 25 more public defenders for animals to cover other
parts of Switzerland. Antoine Goetschel, the only free public animal rights
defender, fears that the unfavorable publicicty from one of his cases may have
been the reason for the proposal to fail. He observed: "Many voters might have
been a bit fed up with the topic."

Goetschel brought the case of Patrick Giger before the courts recently. He was
accused of torturing a pike he caught. How do you torture a pike? He had
bragged about taking a full 10 minutes reeling in the fish and Goetschel brought
charges against him for doing so -needlessly causing suffering to the pike. While
some perhaps might even think this a bit ridiculous - for people of compassion
it is not. There is never a good reason to cause suffering to any living being.
To my surprise one day I read that Pope John XXIII of blessed memory said that
he would not even kill a fly if he didn't have to.

Deciding to prosecute Giger the fisherman, Goetschel made this statement:
"If we put a hook in the mouth of a puppy and did the same thing for 10 minutes,
what would our reaction be? (Of course, some will say there's a big difference
between a puppy and a fish, but I don't think the fish who is suffering will think
so.) And he further notes that with farm animals there is a strict, legally
enforceable time limit between capture and death, so why not with fishing?"

In my opinion, any rational being could not argue with this premise. And
Goetschel observes that unless the Swiss have more public defenders to enforce
the Swiss Animal Protection Law-- infractions will go untried and unpunished.
I do hope that the new law proposed which would have added 25 more public
defenders for animals to cover other parts of the country will be reconsidered
and passed. And I hope that nations like the United States will follow the example
of these compassionate Swiss. Kudos to this wonderful country. May we all learn
from them.

I don't know about you but I often enjoy the comments following a post almost as
as much as the post itself. I found Josephina's post on CARE2:

"Switzerland should be proud being the strictest country in the world in protecting
animals. There is nothing wrong with defining every single thing to molecular
size, if possible. These days when virtue is history and respect is an ancient
language, strict and thorough is key to make sure everyone remembers that
humans and their airheads are not the only ones to roam on earth and thus
have the right to do as they please with everything else."