The defeat is a blow for animal advocates who claim special lawyers are needed to enforce Switzerland's laws on keeping animals.
Swiss voters soundly rejected a plan to appoint special lawyers for animals that are abused by humans, dealing a blow to advocates who say Switzerland's animal rights laws are not being enforced. Results showed that 70.5% of voters cast their ballot against the proposal to extend nationwide a system that has been in place in Zurich since 1992.
Switzerland has among the strictest rules when it comes to caring for pets and farm animals. Pigs, budgies, goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone. Horses and cows must have regular exercise and dog owners must be trained in looking after their pets.
Goetschel said he represents about 150-200 animals annually in Zurich, while in other cantons (states), only a handful of cases go to court each year.
Most of his clients are dogs, cows and cats, Goetschel told The Associated Press in a recent interview. But in one high-profile case last month, Goetschel represented a dead pike after an animal protection group accused the angler who caught it of cruelty for taking 10 minutes to haul the fish in. The angler was found not guilty.
Opponents of the latest proposal, including farmers' groups and the government, had argued that existing laws are sufficient and appointing lawyers for animals would incur unnecessary costs for taxpayers.