Switzerland is a relatively small country but boasts an estimated seven million pets. This number does not include the many farm animals which also call Switzerland home. The country has an impressive history of protecting the well-being of animals and there are many reasons why it is a great place to be a pet.
In 1992, landmark legislation saw Switzerland become the first country to feature animal rights in its constitution. The law made specific provisions to protect the dignity of animals. In 2008 further regulations were introduced to protect pets. Here are some of the laws which make Switzerland the most pet-friendly nation on earth.
The Right to Company
Guinea pigs must live with or be allowed to spend time with other guinea pigs. To satisfy the demand for guinea pig companions, match making services have been established! Cats must also live with a companion or have access to the great outdoors in order to socialise with other felines. At the very least, cats must be able to see other cats from their home. Who would have thought that any country would create legislation to protect the rights of guinea pigs?
Parrots are considered to be highly sociable animals and the law in Switzerland states that they must have companions to live with.
Perhaps more surprisingly, the rights of goldfish are also protected under Swiss law. Goldfish must not be kept alone. The Swiss believe that it is cruel to keep single fish in a bowl. It is hard to argue with this sentiment. All fish must live in aquariums which experience natural day and night cycles and the tanks must have at least one side which is opaque.
Rabbit enclosures must have dark areas for the bunnies to retreat to if they are feeling stressed.
In Switzerland, if you haven’t owned a dog before you are obliged to produce a certificate of competence before being allowed to keep a dog. Dogs must be exercised daily and according to their needs. Some breeds require more exercise than others and the law states that owners should understand the needs of their dog and act accordingly.
Dogs must also be allowed to run around freely for at least five hours each day. The rest of the time they must have access to at least 20 square metres of space.
Owners are not permitted to dock the ears or tails of their dogs as these practices are considered to be cruel.
The laws regarding pets in Switzerland aren’t perfect but they put Switzerland streets ahead of many countries. Rather than merely legislating against cruelty, the Swiss laws reference the specific needs of different pets and lay down minimum standards of care. This means that animals are afforded greater protection whilst pet owners have a better understanding of the levels of care that they must provide. If only animals received the same consideration everywhere!