Very interesting article in The Guardianabout Antoine Goetschel, who is the attorney engaged by the Swiss canton of Zurich to represent animals in court as the “animal advocate.” This position has been in place since 1991. Tomorrow, there is a referendum in Switzerland to approve a measure enabling animal advocates to be engaged in every district (canton). The cost of the animal advocate to Zurich tax payers is calculated to be 8 Swiss cents a year. This initiative is related to animal welfare legislation adopted in 2008, which makes Switzerland one of, if not, the country with the most effective and comprehensive legislation for animals. The article recognises that there are imperfections within the law, as, indeed, there is in many. Nonetheless, among its measures is this amazing one.

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.

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