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Parliament moves to improve animal rights

No pain for piglets castrated under anaesthetic Keystone Archive

The House of Representatives voted in favour of tightening existing animal-rights legislation during its three-week summer session which ended on Friday.

Amendments to the law, which now return to the Senate for further debate, include a ban on the castration of pigs without anaesthetic and a restriction on livestock-journey times.

Following several days of often heated debate, parliamentarians came out in favour of a ban on imports of dog and cat skins and the imposition of a six-hour limit on journey times for animals being transported across the country.

They also supported a proposal aimed at forcing suppliers of meat products to state clearly on all packaging the origin of animals used as well as the method of production.

But the House rejected a plan to limit experiments on animals and turned down a proposal to force Switzerland’s cantons to employ lawyers specifically to look after the interests of animals.

Animal-welfare groups say they have yet to decide whether the revised law goes far enough to stop them from forcing a nationwide vote on the issue.

Wait and see

Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) said it would wait until the two parliamentary chambers have ironed out their differences on the legislation before deciding whether to support the revised law or put its own – more far-reaching – proposals to the electorate.

“SAP welcomes the fact that the House of Representatives has… voted to strengthen the law on the protection of animals in several areas,” the lobby group said in a statement released after the debate.

“We will be watching developments closely and will decide whether to retract our popular initiative once the revised law has been put to a final vote in parliament.”

The principle of the existing law – which is more than two decades old – is that pain, damage or suffering must not be unjustifiably inflicted on an animal. The neglect, over-exertion or mistreatment of animals is also forbidden.

But animal-welfare activists say the law as it stands is outdated and fails to take into account the changed public attitude towards animals.

swissinfo with agencies

There are an estimated 17 million animals, including more than 7 million pets, in Switzerland.
1.3 million cats and 400,000 dogs live in Swiss households.
About 475,000 animals are used annually for scientific purposes.
About 63,000 animals have undergone genetic engineering.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR