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Hundreds of thousands of Swiss people secretly eat cat and dog meat and serve it at Christmas, said a group of animal rights activists, who are calling the government in Switzerland to ban the ‘barbaric’ and ‘outdated tradition’ in the country.

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The SOS Chats Noirague, a well-known animal protection group in Switzerland, started a petition (with more than 18,000 signatures) and delivered it to the Swiss parliament, asking to stop the practice of eating cats and dogs.

Sadly, this practice is not only associated with Switzerland, as it can also be found in some Asian countries. In China, South Korea and Vietnam, people say that the consumption of dogs brings ‘good luck’.

According to Express:

“The Koreans have a special dog meat breed called Nureongi, which is bred for human consumption and very rarely kept as pets.”

Switzerland banned the sale of cat and dog meat, however it is still legal to eat your own cats and dogs. In most of Western Europe, however, the practice is considered taboo, mostly due to humane reasons and an attachment to the animals as household pets, The Washington Post reported.

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Antoine Goetschel, a Swiss animal rights lawyer, considered the campaign as more symbolic than serious. He told News Week:

“It forces the public and Swiss politicians to take these issues into account. A petition like this will allow us to ask questions about the rights of all animals.”

Cats appear on traditional Christmas menus in some areas of Switzerland, cooked with white wine and garlic in a similar way to rabbit. While dog meat is usually used to make sausage and in some rural regions it is considered to be a fatty remedy for rheumatism, according to the Food Safety and Veterinary Office.

Eva van Bek, the Food Safety and Veterinary Authority spokeswoman told the Daily Star:

“They must not be sold as a food item, they cannot be donated or offered for sale, but it is true that under current Swiss law owners cannot be prevented from eating their own pets.”

Tomi Tomek, founder and president of animal protection group SOS Chats Noiraigue, confirmed that 3% of the Swiss still eats cat and dog. She also revealed that 80% of those who eat cats and dogs are farmers; most of them are locating in areas such as the Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and Bern. Tomek said:

“It is an old tradition in Switzerland to eat dog meat like sausages and use dog fat for rheumatism. They eat cats because they taste like rabbits. Farmers will eat their cats and dogs when they have too many. I told them to sterilize the animals but they said it was too costly and it made a good meal.”

One farmer from the Rhine Valley told The Local in 2012:

“Meat is meat. There’s nothing odd about it. Construction workers in particular like eating it.”

The Washington Post also confirmed a 2012 report which revealed that the practice persisted in the rural areas of central and eastern Switzerland.

SOS Chats Noiraigue said that they need at least 50,000 more people to join their campaign. Tomi Tomek told AFP:

“A political leader told us parliament won’t do anything unless people revolt.”

The Switzerland’s food safety and veterinary commission spokesperson, Sabina Helfer, told The Daily Beast that Swiss do eat cats and dogs, but the figure of 3% seems high. She said:

“I don’t know where this number has come from but we certainly cannot verify it. It happens, but you cannot call it a habit.”

Edith Zellweger, a Swiss animal rights activist, claimed that the rate of 3% is more likely to represent the people who have consumed cat or dog meat in their lifetime, which is plausible. She said:

“In almost all rural areas of Switzerland, it is customary to eat cats and dogs. So the number sounds right in my head. We have been condemning the consumption of domestic animals for more than 20 years.”

The SOS Chats Noirague group took his name from a community in the mountains about halfway between Lake Neuchâtel and the French border. Last year, Tomek succeeded in changing the law on trading cat fur after a successful campaign in the country. Tomek told the BBC:

“Presently, we can’t do anything because the law does not forbid people from eating their dog or cat; we can’t even turn in those who engage in this practice. We are asking simply for a paragraph in the law on protecting domestic animals.”



(1) The Washington Post

(2) The Daily Mail

(3) The Mirror

(4) The Daily Beast

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