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Swiss Voters Reject Proposal to Give Abused Animals Their Own Lawyers

Posted Mar 8, 2010 7:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Animals in Switzerland won't have government-funded lawyers fighting for their rights as a result of a voter referendum on Sunday.

About 70 percent of voters turned down the lawyer proposal, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the Associated Press. The measure would have required each of the country’s 26 cantons (in effect, states) to appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of pets and farm animals in court.

Backers of the proposal said the lawyers were needed to make sure Switzerland’s strict standards for animal treatment are enforced. According to AP, Swiss law goes so far as to specify how much space is required for Mongolian gerbils (233 square inches) and the permissible water temperature for African clawed frogs (64 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit).

“The Swiss generally take civil liberties very seriously, whether animal, vegetable or human,” the Wall Street Journal says. “Scientists must consider the dignity of plants before embarking on experiments.”

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