Monday, March 08, 2010

The Swiss Narrowly Escape Their Animal Attorney Overlords

Swiss voters reject giving abused animals a lawyer

The result was emphatic: Swiss voters don't think abused animals need to have their own lawyers.

It's a proposal that would never even come near a referendum in other countries, but the measure's defeat Sunday disappointed animal rights advocates, who say Switzerland's elaborate animal welfare laws aren't being enforced.

Talk about animal rights gone amok or a-lawyer, court appointed attorneys for animals - what will those Swiss think of next?

In Switzerland there apparently already is a non-court-appointed attorney for animals, he's just not paid for by tax dollars:

According to the country's only animal lawyer, Antoine F. Goetschel, public prosecutors are often unsure about animal rights and shy away from pursuing cases even if there is clear evidence of abuse. He said the cost of Sunday's measure would have been less than 1 Swiss franc ($1) per person a year. . . .
Goetschel said he represents about 150-200 animals annually in Zurich, while in other cantons (states), only a handful of cases go to court each year.

Most of his clients are dogs, cows and cats, Goetschel told The Associated Press in a recent interview. Many cases involve the serious abuse of animals, such as deliberate wounding, rape and neglect.
How do these animals sign a retainer letter I wonder? Talk about your case is a real dog.

In any case, its not like there aren't perfectly overgood Swiss laws that define animal care with Swiss-watch-like precision:
Switzerland tightened its laws two years ago and now has among the strictest rules anywhere when it comes to caring for pets and farm animals.

The country's 160-page animal protection law states exactly how much space owners must give Mongolian gerbils (233 square inches) and what water temperature is required for African clawed frogs (18-22 degrees Celsius; 64-72 degrees Fahrenheit)

It stipulates that pigs, budgies, goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone. Horses and cows must have regular exercise outside their stalls and dog owners have to take a training course to learn how to properly look after their pets.

Like in other countries, the law also forbids killing animals in a cruel fashion or for fun.

That's a pretty specific and overbearing piece of formalistic legislation right down to the square footage for gerbils. It doesn't sound like the law comes with inspectors that check your house to ensure your aquarium is at the right temperature, but that you would be violating the law if you're off a bit is quite scary. Very European in its formalism and state control over individual activities. Also very European in that it assumes people need to be instructed and compelled by law in order for them to behave properly. There oughta be a law, and the Swiss have it in spades.

Of course the law gets taken by extremists to extremes:
But in one high-profile case last month, Goetschel represented a dead pike after an animal protection group accused the angler who caught it of cruelty for taking 10 minutes to haul the fish in.

The angler was found not guilty.
Quite a fishy case indeed, and a good example of a law passed with noble intentions gone amok. Prosecuting an angler over a dead pike being caught presumably to be consumed by said angler is pretty darn frivilous. Besides, Pike chowder is tasty.

While there is no such thing as animal rights, there certainly are obligations that people take on when the obtain a pet or animal, such as not abusing them and caring for them appropriately. After all what the heck is the point of having a pet if you abuse it or don't treat it properly?

Thankfully the Swiss are saved, at least for now, from having their own money used to have themselves prosecuted in the name of various caught fish and assorted roadkill.

Moose bites can be pretty nasty, but they're worse when they come at you with a summons and complaint.

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