You can travel the world over, but you probably will not find a country that displays a greater focus on animal advocacy than Switzerland. For such a small country, the Swiss know the importance of attending to their estimated 7 million pets that populate this land of neutrality.
Constitution & Legislation
Improving the working and living conditions of this sovereign nation dates back to their 1992 landmark legislation. It was at that time, it became the first country to include animal rights in their constitution, and a provision allowing for the protection of ‘animal dignity.’
That was followed up by the subsequent Animal Welfare Act of 2005, which prohibits inflicting pain, suffering, or harm on any animal, inducing anxiety in an animal, or otherwise disregarding its dignity without justification. Mishandling and abject neglect are also prohibited. This legislation apples to all vertebrates as well as to invertebrates designated by the Federal Council.
In 2008, Switzerland pushed further in introducing a bevy of new animal rights regulations that were specific to certain animals. Some sound more whimsical than practical, and might make you question what those lawmakers were smoking? But at the core of these initiatives, the Swiss show how serious they feel about their animals.
1. One such law requires that goldfish must have friends to swim around with. The Swiss believe it is cruel to have them live alone in a small fish bowl, as they are actually very social animals and need the company of their kindred spirits.
2. Similarly, the Swiss have a cat’s social life in mind — if a cat doesn’t have a feline companion at home, he or she must be able to go outside to socialize with others, or at the very least, be able to see other cats from home.
3. Guinea pigs must also live with or have regular play-dates with other members of their species. They can get lonely if they don’t have a companion. Since guinea pigs often don’t live the exact same amount of time, matchmaking services have sprouted up in the country to make sure they are not alone.
4. Rabbits’ cages must have a dark area where they can chill out, if they feel the need. Rabbits are very particular about their space, and having a dark area in their enclosures allows them to experience lower stress levels.
5. Before a dog can be accepted into a new home, a pet owner must provide a certificate of competence demonstrating they know how to deal with and treat dogs. If they can prove that they’ve already had a dog, though, they’re off the hook. And this is just the short list. For more animal advocacy regulations pertaining to other pets, check out the Cares2 Causes' post on the topic here.
Should others countries follow suit?
While Switzerland could do even more in the areas of animal welfare laws and enforcement, they truly are the role model for other countries to follow.
That is unless you know of another country that is accomplishing more in this arena than Switzerland?