The Swiss love their animals, so much so that they have one of the strictest animal right laws. Good for them! I love animals too and although I think that what this law says is obvious in many respects, it is certainly a step in the right direction.
After several highly publicized dog attacks a law was passed in 2005. It obligates animal owners to attend different classes and follow special rules. It specifies that social animals, like guinea pigs and parrots must be kept in pairs, sort of like a buddy system. There is also a minimum size that their cages can be. Farm animals (along with cats) have their own part of the law. It ensures that these will be kept in an animal friendly environment. Taking classes are high on the list of Swiss things to do, so there are lots you can attend. In fact you even have to take a class to learn how to catch a fish humanely.
Then there is the dog. Dogs have to abide by lots of rules. New, first-time dog owners have to take a preliminary course before they even bring home their new pet. I guess so they know what they are getting themselves into. All dog owners must take a class (I believe ours was 6x 2 hours). After you finish, you and your pup are awarded a certificate of participation. None of these classes are free. You are expected to pay for the classes out of your own pocket. They cost CHF 150 (Swiss francs) for the first class and the CHF 200 for the second.
Starting in 2007 you must register your dog and have a micro-chip implanted. It is usually implanted in their neck and it identifies them and you as their owner. Also you get to pay yearly taxes if you have a dog, we pay CHF 100 per year per dog! No taxes for cats as far as I know.
The taxes are used for the good of the dog owners and public. Since 1981 there are ‘Robidogs’ set up everywhere. What is a Robidog, you might ask. It’s a Swiss invention which is basically a green metal box with rolls of brown bags attached. Dog owners pick up their dog doo with the brown plastic bag and put it in the container. It’s a good, clean idea that helps keep the dog doo off the sidewalks and pedestrian shoes.
Sometimes it only takes one ‘bad’ dog owner to spoil it for the rest of the dog owners. When we had our first dog I used to get a lot of remarks from mostly men (only once a woman). The remarks always were about how you dog owners never clean up after your dogs (a lot of globalizing there). Their dislike is understandable, really, who likes stepping in dog doo? Certainly not me. I always clean up what our dogs do, but I guess I looked like an easy target.
I was always shocked and saddened that 1) I would always get picked on, never my husband and 2) I was always so surprised that I never had a good response. Then once someone really let me have it verbally and I decided that that would never happen to me again. I went home and figured out exactly what I could say if and when that ever occurred again. I hoped, of course, that it wouldn’t. Two weeks later it did and told that man exactly what I thought. He apologized! Strangely, it has never happened since. I guess I no longer look like someone who can be told off.
Pets are good for you
In spite of the money spent on classes and such for dogs or other animals, it is proven that pets can keep you healthy. Pet owners have a healthier heart and a lower blood pressure, petting your cat or dog soothes stress. You always have something to talk about when your pet is around so you are more social. And, pets can do the cutest things which put you in a better mood. Our pets have given us so much love and enriched our lives that I couldn’t imagine our lives without them. Most people I know have a pet of some kind: dog, cat, bird, fish or rabbit.
Children instinctively know pets do them good. They often wish for a pet for Christmas, my husband and his sister when they were younger, included. His sister wanted a fish, Ben thought about it and decided he wanted a pet too for Christmas. He wanted a pet cow and thought the whole thing through. When asked where in the small apartment the family lived in a cow should stay. He replied, without missing a beat, ‘on the balcony’. That was all he wanted, a cow on the balcony. He was really upset when Christmas came and his sister got her goldfish but there was no cow on the balcony! Life can be so unfair sometimes.