Global Animal Law GAL in detail
Krstina Znidar, Journalist for the Eko dezela in Slovenjia
First, we would like to know, where did the idea for an Animal lawyer come from?
Afg: When I dealt with the animal law enforcement in Switzerland, especially in the Canton of Zurich, more then 30 years ago, no one could stand up for the animal’s interest in a good life. The state attorney were not skilled or motivated. Therefore we created the official “Animal Attorney in criminal procedures” in 1991. I was the official one from 2007 – 2010.
What kind of cases do you fight, handle?
Afg: I had around 180 cases a year, mostly dogs, cows, cats and pigs. The law enforcement in the farm industry took mostly place in the years 1995 – 2000, so the pet animals took the majority of the cases. The all are published on www.tierimrecht.org, the Foundation for the Animal in the Law I created in 1995.
Are there Animal lawyers anywhere else in Europe - have you considered expanding in other countries (for exapmle, Slovenia)
Afg: If you count attorneys interested in animal matters, yes, by chance. For bringing the animal law enforcement issue on an international and global level, we created the Global Animal Law GAL Project on www.globalanimallaw.org. There you will find more then 55 GAL “Foxes”, so law professors and animal attorneys worldwide. With them – and our whole team – we want a better law adoption, law enforcement and education in animal law.
What does being an Animal lawyer mean for you?
Afg: to stand up for legal minorities is a privilege and an honor. By proving that fundamental legal change is possible, as e.g. in Switzerland and Austria, it gets easier to motivate other legislators, from local to global, for a better human animal relationship. It is very satisfying in being the founder of GAL and a part of this global movement.
What was the hardest case for you in all these years?
Afg: “Within the around 700 cases I treated within my three years as official animal attorney, probably “The Pike” case was a very hard one: A pike, a large old fish, was drilled for about 20 minutes to be brought to ashore and been killed, when the fish (and the fisherman) was very exhausted. I argued that also fish are protected by animal welfare law and that this way of fishing for no other reason than fun was leading to unnecessary pain and suffering. If it was a puppy or a cat – what a riot would take place. The state attorney supported the case and punished the fisherman. The judge set him free by arguing that from his point of view the legislation on fishing overrules the animal welfare act. The case was discussed worldwide and showed the large lack of sensibility towards the pain or at least stress the fish have to endure. Since then the issue is discussed and regarded in a more animal friendly way.”
What have you learnt in all of these cases?
Afg: “I learned to argue with a warm heart and a cool brain. As in other criminal fields we need sufficient evidence for a conviction of an (animal) mistreater. witnesses, pictures, veterinarian’s declarations. I also learned that policemen, state attorneys and judges can open up for animal issues when presented to them in an objective and convincing way. Therefore the Global Animal Law GAL Project on www.globalanimallaw.org has been launched to provide objective, realistic and visionary outlooks for districts, states and globally for a more animal friendly world.