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Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

Switzerland - Animal Welfare and Cultural Issues

At a federal level, Switzerland has made animal welfare a priority. The keeping of animals, from the smallest to the largest, is regulated to ensure their well-being. The regulations include enclosure size, proper conditions and lighting for each species type, with outdoor access and provision of bathing water as appropriate. Social animals must have companions of its own species and you may not be permitted to buy one of these animals alone in Switzerland. These include rodents and goldfish. The law does exist for the good of the animals and in cases where it is not in a particular animal or bird's interest to have a companion you should not experience any difficulty in justifying this, if your decision should ever be queried.

Farming and angling is also regulated to ensure that the treatment of farm animals and fish is humane. Sadly there are however cases of animal abuse and illegal practices, and animal rights groups continue to campaign for these to be stopped. Animal cruelty is treated with proper seriousness in Switzerland and you need not hesitate to report it. Animal protection services (e.g. Swiss Animal Protection, in German 'Tierschutz') investigate reports of cruelty and neglect, and will remove an animal if suspicions are confirmed. If an owner refuses access to the protection agency or any vet who has been sent by them, the police can get involved.

Expats have on occasion been on the receiving end of this, having experienced reports about alleged mistreatment of much-loved pets, whether made out of malice or misinformed concern. For expats from the UK and other countries where pets are treated as family members any such allegations can be distressing. If this should happen to you, be prepared to prove that your pet's needs are being met and that it is in good health. The Swiss have somewhat different standards of what is considered sufficient care for animals and in many cases will be concerned if your pet is left alone or can be heard barking or mewing without any apparent owner response.

Dog owners are expected to keep their dogs under control in public, including in parks unless in a designated dog exercising area. Avoid letting them relieve themselves on private grounds and always pick up after your dog and place waste in a Robidog disposal unit, which also dispense free bags.

If you can offer a good home for a pet there are a number of animal shelters where you can adopt. If in German-speaking Switzerland, search under 'Tierheim'. There is a cat shelter in Geneva called SOS-Chats. Most shelters will warmly welcome any offer of support, from donations and sponsorship of residents to volunteering.

On the whole there are no cultural sensitivities towards animals but a percentage of the population belong to the Islamic faith (approx 5%) who may eat Halal and there are also a number of Jewish residents, particularly in Zurich, who may observe a kosher diet. Meat from pigs should not be served to friends or colleagues you meet in Switzerland who are known to adhere to either of these religions.

Useful Resources

Swiss Animal Protection SAP
Organisation protecting animals from cruelty and neglect
Dornacherstrasse 101, P.O. Box 461, CH 4008 Basel
Tel: +41 (0)61 365 99 99
Email: sts@tierschutz.com

Animal Shelters in Switzerland
Directory of animal shelters by canton, plus advice and links to animal welfare organisations
All contact via contact form

Read more about this country

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