Dignity of the animal

The Swiss Animal Welfare Act protects both the welfare and the dignity of the animal.

The Act defines the dignity of the animal as its inherent worth, which must be respected when handling it. If any strain imposed on the animal cannot be justified by overriding interests, this constitutes a disregard for the animal’s dignity. Strain is imposed on the animal when it is caused any pain, suffering or harm. It must not be exposed to anxiety or humiliation. In addition, the dignity of the animal is disrespected if there is major interference with its appearance or abilities, or if it is excessively instrumentalised (Art. 3 letter a AniWA).

Weighing of interests

Whether justification exists in a specific case is clarified by carrying out a weighing of interests. The FSVO’s “Dignity of the animal” study group has devised a model procedure to ensure that weighing of interests is carried out correctly and uniformly. It is addressed to people who deal with specific issues concerning respect for the dignity of animals in the course of their work. The model leads users through the procedure in seven stages. In the context of animal welfare legislation, it helps determine whether interventions are permissible in vertebrates, cephalopods and crustaceans, especially in the licensing of animal experiments. The explanatory notes on the weighing of interests explain the theoretical background behind the concept of dignity of the animal and describe how this concept is put into practice by conducting a weighing of interests. The document "Dignity of the animal: guide to the ‘Weighing of interests in animal experiments'" provides additional details as to animal experimentation. 

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Last modification 11.08.2020

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