Does Your Dog Need a Lawyer?

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Americans love their pets, but apparently we don’t respect them as much as Switzerland.

Back in 2008, legislators in Switzerland passed a new law to ensure better treatment for “social species.” So, for example, this law mandated that anyone who owns fish makes sure they only leave the lights on as long as there would be sunlight normally. And all social animals like dogs and horses are required under Swiss law to “have contact with others of its own kind.” Otherwise, it’s considered animal abuse.

So it seems fair to say that the Swiss are generous toward animals, but even they have their limits. Last week, Switzerland held a referendum on whether to grant legal representation to abused animals. But according to the BBC, 70% of voters rejected the proposal.

“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,” the BBC reported. If the law had passed, every district in Switzerland would have been required to provide lawyers, and taxpayers would have had to foot the bill. As it stands, Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, has had this policy in place for years, but the new law would take the idea national.

So there you have it, animal rights are great until they cost you money. Still, Swiss lawmaker Jakob Buechler found a slightly better way to spin the verdict. "The Swiss people have clearly said our animal protection laws are so good we don't need animal lawyers," he said. Touché.

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