Legal beagles muzzled

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

Animal rights groups had proposed
the move, saying that without lawyers to argue the animals’ case, many
instances of cruelty were going unpunished.

But the measure was rejected by
around 70 per cent of voters in a referendum.

Opponents had argued that
Switzerland did not need more legislation. The government had opposed the idea.

Voters were almost certainly swayed
by worries about how much such a system might cost taxpayers, and by objections
from Switzerland’s farmers already struggling with reduced subsidies and
falling milk prices.

Switzerland already has some of the
strictest animal welfare legislation in the world.

Pigs, budgies,
goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone; horses and cows must
have regular exercise outside in summer and winter; and dog owners have to take
training courses to learn how to care for their pets.