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Swiss Reject "Lawyers For Animals" Legislation
Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum by a vote of 71 to 29 percent that would have compelled local governments to hire lawyers to defend the rights of animals, according to a recent piece in the Wall Street Journal.
  The referendum was hotly debated in a country that has some of the toughest animal-welfare laws in the world. If it had passed, each of the country's 26 cantons would have had to hire official animal lawyers - a sort of public defender - to represent pets, farm animals and wildlife. Animal-welfare groups had argued that if people accused of mistreating animals can hire lawyers, the victims of such abuse are also entitled to representation.
  Actually, the Swiss canton of Zurich already has an official animal lawyer. A couple months ago, that lawyer went to court in defense of a 22-lb. fish that fought a fisherman for 10 min. before it ended up in the boat. A picture showing the fisherman holding the big fish appeared in a local newspaper and local animal welfare groups complained, alleging animal cruelty during the fisherman's epic battle. "Why should this be legal when other animals have to be slaughtered humanely," asked the lawyer, Antoine Goetschel. He lost the case in court but is considering an appeal.

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3