How far should animal protection law go?
On 7 March, there is to be a referendum in Switzerland on the current law. If passed, the amendment would require every canton to have an animal lawyer – whose official job it is to represent animals who are victims.
A dwarf rabbit, for example, must be kept in a hutch no smaller than 50cm x 70cm, with 40cm headroom. They must also have a nest box, or the “ability to dig”. (Curiously, gerbils are accorded more head room than rabbits.) The new rules for dogs are even more exacting. Dogs are deemed “social animals” and, therefore, “must have daily contact with humans, and, as far as possible, with other dogs”. If kept in outdoor kennels, they must be “chain free” for at least five hours a day and kept in pairs, or with other “compatible animals”. It says they must be walked daily, but the act fails to specify for how long or how far (which has angered some campaigners). And all prospective owners must now complete a four-hour “theory” course before buying a dog then complete a further four hours at a dog school as soon as they take ownership of the animal. Dogs must only be fed “species specific” food and their “enclosures” must have separate areas for eating, sleeping and toileting. If only half the world’s human population could be given such guarantees, sniff the critics of the animal act.
On the referendum (in German).
According to the NZZ (in German), the use of an animal lawyer makes proceedings more efficient: the specialized lawyer saves costs for the prosecution and veterinary associations.
Meanwhile, I translated a few texts last year about the law relating to religious slaughter of animals (Schächten in German). The book produced by dialrel is now available (Nomos Verlag). It contains both German and English text and there is a free PDF download as well as a book for sale. I did very little if any of the translation of this book, and certainly not the title!
Johannes Caspar/ Jörg Luy (Hrsg.)Tierschutz bei der religiösen Schlachtung / Animal Welfare at Religious Slaughter, Die Ethik-Workshops des DIALREL Projekts / The ethics workshops of the DIALREL Project
Meanwhile, on the topic of animal rights, should PETA really be calling for Knut to be Kneutered?
LATER NOTE: The referendum on animal lawyers in the other cantons was even more negative than expected: NZZ (in German).