Would you kill a stranger for 1

Animal law

The offense of cruelty to animals is fulfilled «whoever willfully

  • abuses, neglects, unnecessarily overexerted an animal or disregards its dignity in any other way;
  • Kills animals excruciatingly or out of mischief;
  • Organizes fights between or with animals in which animals are tortured or killed;
  • inflicts pain, suffering or damage on an animal when carrying out experiments or causes it to be frightened, unless this is unavoidable for the intended purpose;
  • abandons or leaves an animal kept in the house or on the farm with the intention of getting rid of it »(Art. 26 Para. 1 TSchG).


Art. 26 TSchG provides for the same penalties for all variants of animal cruelty. Anyone who willfully abuses animals is sentenced to imprisonment of between six months and three years or a fine calculated according to so-called daily rates. The Animal Welfare Act stipulates a maximum fine of CHF 20,000 for negligent cruelty to animals. The willful animal cruelty is punished as an offense in accordance with the threat of punishment and is investigated by the public prosecutor in the canton of Zurich. Negligent cruelty to animals is considered a violation, for which the governor's offices are responsible.


a) Concept of animal abuse

The Animal Welfare Act uses the term animal abuse without explaining it in more detail. However, a comparatively rich legal literature and case law can be looked back on. Animal abuse is defined as any unnecessary cause of pain or suffering to an animal, as a result of which its well-being is significantly impaired. This does not just mean the extremely raw or persistent infliction of suffering. As the following cases from court practice show, a single violation is sufficient to speak of animal abuse; however, this violation must have caused the animal more than just insignificant pain and suffering. A regular offense is not required. In contrast to the old Article 264 of the Criminal Code, which was repealed in 1981 by the Animal Welfare Act, which has now been completely revised, the Animal Welfare Act also expressly protects the psyche of an animal, so that the unjustified placing of an animal in a state of fear can also constitute a criminal offense.


b) Concept of neglect

The severe neglect is in addition to the mistreatment of animals and makes it clear that not only those who inflict pain and suffering on an animal through an active act should be punished for cruelty to animals. Anyone who does not fulfill his duties towards the animal acts immediately reprehensible. As a perpetrator, therefore, only those people in whose care the animal is in question. The offense of severe neglect is fulfilled by anyone who is in charge of the animal and neglects the actions required for its well-being, such as feeding, care and providing adequate accommodation, which causes the animal to suffer considerably or its well-being is significantly impaired. An animal is not only severely neglected when it is no longer viable or in danger of spoiling, but when it suffers from lack of or inadequate care and maintenance or when its well-being is restricted. From the case law it can be seen that the severe neglect of animals usually requires a so-called "success". It must therefore be proven that the animal actually suffered or its well-being was impaired, although experts disputed whether this requirement really has to be met in order to be neglected. There are also opinions according to which it is enough if the perpetrator has to expect an impairment of the animal's welfare. It is also controversial whether there is neglect if the keeper does not regularly feed his animals, but they are saved from suffering because a third party who is not responsible is taking care of them. Minor forms of violation of animal keeping obligations fall under the offense of Art. 28 TSchG.


c) Concept of unnecessary overexertion

Among the animal cruelty stocks, unnecessary overexertion is a special case of mistreatment which therefore need not have been explicitly mentioned. Presumably, the term was included in the Animal Welfare Act (TSchG) because it was already included in the criminal law provisions on cruelty to animals and it is still common in certain areas to demand great physical performance from animals, which appears so normal to those affected that they do would not see any cruelty to animals in it. Exertion is already defined. It consists in the fact that the animal is expected to perform which exceeds its strength. Basically, any overexertion must be described as unnecessary. This term has probably remained in the legal text because it was included around forty years ago in Article 264 of the Criminal Code, which was repealed when the - now completely revised - Animal Welfare Act came into force. Although any overexertion in terms of the Animal Welfare Act appears to be unnecessary, there are certain exceptions. The same reasons apply as for Art. 4 TSchG. This provision uses a similar term: "No one may unjustifiably cause pain, suffering, harm, or fear to an animal". In criminal law, a criminal act can be considered justified under the following circumstances:


(1)  Self-defense according to Art. 15f. of the Criminal Code (StGB). If someone is attacked or threatened immediately, he may defend himself against the attacker in proportionate resistance. This right of self-defense also has an uninvolved third party (self-defense assistance). Since the threat or attack must originate from a human act, self-defense against attacks by animals is fundamentally out of the question, unless the owner has trained it to do so (BGE 97 IV 73).


(2)  Such attacks are therefore usually a state of emergency according to Art. 17f. StGB before. The act that someone commits, if someone commits a criminal act in order to save their own legal interest or that of a third party from an immediate danger that cannot be averted otherwise, remains unpunished if it safeguards higher-value interests or if the circumstances could not be expected of them, to divulge the endangered good.


(3)  There are also legal requirements and permissions that can dictate an act that is in itself punishable, such as the professional duties according to Art. 14 StGB. This applies, for example, to the use of firearms by the police, who are allowed to repel an attack by an animal. Under no circumstances can this justify cruelty to animals. These persons are only entitled to the authority that the legal system gives them.


(4)  Conversely, animal welfare can, as it were, form an overriding reason for justification under the heading of "safeguarding legitimate interests". For example, one could discuss the impunity of a pet owner who drives her dog, who has had an accident and is close to dying, to the vet in an emergency and accepts the violation of the maximum speed and the signaling.


d) Concept of the dignity of the animal

Switzerland is still the only country in the world to have granted the dignity of creatures constitutional protection for more than a decade, which means that all non-human living beings - and thus animals in particular - are given an explicit appreciation at the highest legal level like nowhere else. Art. 120 para 2 BV stipulates that the dignity of creatures in the field of genetic engineering research is to be respected and protected. However, the principle is not limited to genetic engineering, but goes far beyond this, in that it encompasses the entire legal definition of the human-animal relationship. The concept of creature dignity is of central importance, especially in the context of animal protection legislation and the broad spectrum of areas of human interaction with animals regulated therein.


Today's Animal Welfare Act states in Art. 1 that the purpose of this act is to protect the dignity and well-being of animals. The explicit mention of animal dignity testifies to a changed understanding of seeing animals as actual fellow creatures of humans who deserve a better position than they have been given up to now. Article 3 letter a defines the concept of dignity. According to this, it is to be understood as the intrinsic value of the animal, which must be taken into account when dealing with it. The dignity of the animal is disregarded if a burden on the animal cannot be justified by overriding interests. Stress is particularly present when the animal is inflicted with pain, suffering or damage, when it is frightened or humiliated, when its appearance or abilities are profoundly interfered with, or when it is overly instrumentalized. Art. 4 para. 2 TSchG states that no one may unjustifiably inflict pain, suffering or harm on an animal, frighten it or otherwise disregard its dignity. Anyone who abuses, neglects, unnecessarily overworks an animal or disregards its dignity in any other way according to Article 26 Paragraph 1 lit. a TSchG will be punished with imprisonment or a fine combined with a fine.


e) Organizing animal fights (Art. 26 Para. 1 lit. e TSchG)

Fights with or between animals in which they are tortured or killed are prohibited in Switzerland. This applies to bullfights as we know them from Spain, Portugal and the south of France, as well as to dog and cock fights or to fights between dogs and foxes or bears. Anyone who organizes such fights is punished with imprisonment or a fine, combined with a fine.


f) Release of animals (Art. 26 Para. 1 lit. e TSchG)

Article 26 (1) (e) TSchG prohibits the abandoning and leaving behind of an animal kept in the house or on the farm with the intention of getting rid of it. The ban on exposure is also laid down in Article 16 (2) (f) TSchV. Anyone who intentionally, i.e. with knowledge and will, violates the suspension ban will be punished with imprisonment or a fine, combined with a fine. Anyone who only acts negligently will also be punished, but only risk a fine of up to CHF 20,000. If the act can be traced back to someone neglecting or neglecting the consequences of his behavior as a result of negligent carelessness, this is referred to as negligence (Art. 18 (3) of the Criminal Code of the Criminal Code). The animal is in the care of the animal owner, who takes care of its care, shelter and food. A suspension within the meaning of Art. 26 Para. 1 lit. e TSchG exists if the animal is moved from this protected state to a new one through positive activity, in which its life, well-being or integrity are significantly endangered, unless a saving accident occurs. This is to be distinguished from the activity of an animal welfare association that catches domestic cats that have already gone wild, sterilizes them and releases them into the natural environment.


g) Leaving animals behind (Art. 26 Para. 1 lit. e TSchG)

In the case of leaving behind, which is also a criminal offense, in contrast to exposure, there is no action taken directly on the animal. The perpetrator leaves his house or his company and endangers the well-being or the well-being of the animal by failing to take the necessary measures to care for and keep his animal.