Animal rights activists have drawn up a petition to ban the ‘barbaric’ practice of eating pets in Switzerland, where cat meat often appears on traditional Christmas menus in rural areas.
The animal protection group, SOS Chats Noraingue, has handed over a petition with 16,000 signatures, including such notable animal rights defenders as Brigitte Bardot, to the Swiss parliament on Tuesday.
Dog meat is often used to make sausage, while cats are prepared around the holiday season in a similar style to rabbit, in a white wine and garlic sauce. A type of mostbröckli made from marinated cat or dog is another local favorite.
Though there are no statistics available on the amount of cat and dog meat consumed by the Swiss, SOS Chats founder and president, Tomi Tomek told AFP she suspects that “around three percent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog.”
While the commercial sale of dog meat is banned nationwide, its consumption is still legal and is particularly popular in Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern, according to Tomek. Farmers are free to kill and eat their own animals. Those in the Appenzell and St. Gallen areas are said to favor a beefy breed of dog related to Rottweilers.
In a 2012 report on pet eating in the Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger, the Swiss Veterinary Office chalked up the practice to a “cultural matter” and noted that some countries breed dogs specifically for slaughter.
One farmer, defending the practice, told the paper, “There’s nothing odd about it. Meat is meat. Construction workers in particular like eating it.”
This is not the first time that Swiss animal rights defenders have tried altering animal welfare law. The Swiss parliament rejected a bill banning the eating of household pets back in 1993.
Encouraged by last year’s victory outlawing the sale of cat fur, SOS Chats now hope parliament will listen and forbid pet consumption once and for all.
“A political leader told us parliament won’t do anything unless people revolt,” Tomek was quoted as saying in the Local.ch, the Swiss edition of the Local. “The Swiss need to take care of this themselves,” she added.
Currently, Swiss farming and agriculture welfare laws do not include protection for pets. The killing of a pet can only be prosecuted if the means of slaughter was deemed to have caused unnecessary pain or suffering.
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