8 Mar 2010

Swiss voters reject lawyers-for-animals proposal

9:33 am on 8 March 2010

Voters in Switzerland have rejected a proposal to introduce a system of state-funded lawyers to represent animals in court.

The measure was rejected by 70% of voters in a referendum.

Voters' concerns were about how much such a system might cost, and by objections from Switzerland's farmers already struggling with reduced subsidies and falling milk prices.

Opponents had argued that Switzerland did not need more animal legislation.

Strict animal welfare legislation means that pigs, budgies, goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone and dog owners have to take training courses to learn how to care for their pets.

The Swiss government had recommended voters reject the idea.

There is already one animal lawyer in Switzerland who has gone to court on behalf of dogs, cats, cows, sheep and even a fish.

Zurich has made legal representation for animals in cruelty cases compulsory since 1992.