Nearly two-thirds of the 19,000 animals placed in refuges last year found new homes in pet-loving Switzerland.
According to the Swiss Animal Protectionexternal link (SAP) organisation, 43% of Swiss households have at least one pet, often a cat. In 2018 there were 1.6 million pet cats, 505,000 dogs, roughly the same number of rodents and rabbits, 370,000 reptiles and more than three million aquarium fish.
Switzerland has 19.5 cats per 100 inhabitants, making it one of the top cat-loving nations in Europe, says the SAP. On the other hand, cats are also the animals most found in shelters, with more than 10,000 there last year.
The number of shelter cats nevertheless fell 6% in 2018 compared with the previous year. Out of 6,100 lost cats taken in, only one in five could be returned to their original owners. SAP says this shows that only a small proportion of pet cats are “chipped” and registered.
For the first time in several years, the number of dogs collected into refuges rose slightly.
SAP says more and more exotic reptiles such as snakes and lizards are being handed to animal protection centres by their owners or abandoned in the countryside.
Animal protection authorities are also finding more and more illegally imported animals.
Many of these animals are kept in contravention of the law or in poor conditions, according to SAP, which says their care requires special expertise. The organisation plans to create several sites that are suitable for keeping exotic reptiles until good homes can be found for them, in addition to one site already set up in April.