• Switzerland edition
 
American couple lock horns with Swiss farmer over ‘cattle cruelty’
'Baby' with her calf. Photo: Diana Dorsch

American couple lock horns with Swiss farmer over ‘cattle cruelty’

Published: 15 Jan 2013 18:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 15 Jan 2013 18:38 GMT+01:00

They have gathered detailed evidence, which they say proves that animal welfare laws are being violated. The Swiss have toughened regulations to protect animals from mistreatment but it's too late as far as Bryant and Diana Dorsch are concerned. The Dorsches, from Kreuzlingen in the canton of Thurgau, campaigned for over a year to save a cow and her calf suffering apparent neglect and mistreatment. They wanted to buy the two animals and move them to a sanctuary.

Despite being offered more than the slaughter price, the farmer went ahead and had the animals butchered at the end of last year. The Dorsches took over 3,000 photographs and recorded around 50 hours of video footage of the alleged ill treatment of cattle on the farm neighbouring their home between April 2010 and October last year.

Cow crusade

After moving next to the farm  with her new husband in April 2010, Diana Dorsch developed a relationship with one  of the animals in the herd of 60 or so cattle, “Baby” — a black and white calf. Concerned at the filthy state of the animals, she tried to persuade the farmer to improve their conditions. 


But little changed and in the two years that followed the Dorsches say they reported many violations of animal protection ordinances to the canton of Thurgau veterinary office. These violations included allowing the animals to lie in their own filth and failing to provide water.

The Dorsches gathered fresh grass for the cows during the winter months when they were confined to the barn, and every time they were led out to pasture fed them apples and carrots. Meantime, Baby gave birth to a calf of her own. Learning that the farmland was to be sold for the construction of apartments, Diana Dorsch asked to buy Baby and her calf from the farmer but he refused to sell.

She last saw the cow and calf on October 11th last year. A day later, the two were taken away for slaughter along with three other cows. “I can’t tell you how shocked I was,” recalls Dorsch, still traumatised by what happened.

The farmer was unavailable for comment, but in a statement to the animal protection group VgT, his wife accuses Diana Dorsch of taking “revenge” on them, and says the “feeding of bags of carrots and apples to the animals caused them digestive problems”.

Legal framework

Dr Paul Witzig, head of the Thurgau cantonal veterinary office, confirms that he handled the abuse allegations but says that for reasons of confidentiality he cannot comment on what action was taken.

The animal protection law was revised in 2008, clarifying the rules on keeping cattle. After a transition period certain provisions will come into force from September 1st this year.

These federal regulations state that the surface where cattle are kept must always be clean. The animals should also be properly fed and watered. “Calves must be able to drink water at all times,” the law says. “Cattle need water at least twice a day.”

The Federal Veterinary Office says there are no nationwide statistics on reported cases of mistreatment of farm animals. But figures from 2011 show legal proceedings were brought in 211 cases for mistreatment of cattle, up from 154 cases the year before.

“Farmers generally respect the rules as they know that violations can soon become costly, and also because they know that they can make money by looking after their animals well,” Witzig says.

The Thurgau veterinary official says two to three dozen reports of violations of the law involving cattle are reported in the canton annually, a figure that has remained constant for a number of years. But the type of infringement being reported has changed. The stalls now being built mean it is less common for cattle to be tied up and have their movement restricted. However, there are more cases of cattle in a dirty condition because the tendency towards larger herds means less care is given to individual animals.

“The farmers know the rules, and the rules are clear,” Witzig says. “But violations still take place, just as there are always people who drive too fast. The reasons are usually too much work, lack of investment or no-one to take over the farm, and financial and social problems.”

While cattle are to be better protected by the law, it remains legal for Swiss to eat cats and dogs. Diana Dorsch and her husband hope to end that anomaly. They want to raise the required 100,000 signatures to bring a popular initiative against the consumption of dog and cat meat in Switzerland.

Morven McLean (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2013-02-04 14:39:53 by bellsucks
Ban Yanks seems like a solution.
Today's headlines
Former Coop Bank CEO faces three-year ban
FINMA found irregularities at the bank. Photo: Coop Bank

Former Coop Bank CEO faces three-year ban

The Swiss Financial Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has banned former Coop Bank CEO Andreas Waespi from any managerial role for three years after it was found he manipulated share prices at the bank. READ  

Federal law aims to ease Swiss rent rises
New tenants will now have the right to know the rent paid by their predecessors. Photo: Ruth Hartnup

Federal law aims to ease Swiss rent rises

Anyone taking on a new lease on a rental property in Switzerland will have the right to know what rent the landlord charged the previous tenants under new changes to the tenancy law. READ  

Weapons stockpile found in home near Interlaken
Police took two days to take an inventory of the weapons (not those pictured). Photo: AFP

Weapons stockpile found in home near Interlaken

Police have seized a stash of around 2,000 weapons and ammunition hoarded by a 68-year-old man in his Unterseen home, near Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland. READ  

Federer struggles to win opener at Paris Masters
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Federer struggles to win opener at Paris Masters

Switzerland’s Roger Federer struggled at times but finally prevailed in three sets in his opening match at the Paris Masters tennis tournament against hard-serving Frenchman Jérémy Chardy. READ  

Nestlé to 'employ' robot clerks in Japan stores
Photo: AFP

Nestlé to 'employ' robot clerks in Japan stores

Swiss-based food giant Nestlé says its Japan unit is hiring 1,000 robots as sales clerks at stores across the country. READ  

Lagging Swiss ease 'barriers' for business
Switzerland has made it easier to start a business by introducing online procedures, report says. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Lagging Swiss ease 'barriers' for business

Switzerland may be best in the world for competitiveness but when it comes to ease of starting a business the Alpine country lags behind 19 other countries — although it has improved over the past year, a new World Bank report says. READ  

Bern police track clues on 50 armed robbers
The Reithalle, seen here as it looked in 2003, is used by young people in Bern as a centre for alternative culture. Photo: Roland Zumbühl/Picswiss

Bern police track clues on 50 armed robbers

Bern police are seeking witnesses after a bizarre robbery involving 50 masked gunmen at an alternative culture centre in the Swiss capital at the weekend. READ  

Neuchâtel tech firm unveils white solar panel
Christophe Ballif, head of CSEM's solar panel team, and staff show off white panel. Photo: CSEM

Neuchâtel tech firm unveils white solar panel

A non-profit technology company based in Neuchâtel has unveiled what it describes as the first white solar panel in the world. READ  

Swiss Ebola vaccine trials cleared to start
Ebola poster in Liberia. Photo: AFP

Swiss Ebola vaccine trials cleared to start

Ebola vaccine trials are set to start in Switzerland this week after receiving the green light from the country's authorities, the Geneva-based World Health Organization said on Tuesday. READ  

New products push up Novartis Q3 earnings
Photo: Sebastien Bozon/AFP

New products push up Novartis Q3 earnings

Basel-based pharmaceuticals giant Novartis on Tuesday said that strong sales of new products had helped push its net profit up 45 percent in the third quarter from the same period a year earlier, despite competition from copycat generic drugs. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Job candidates unhappy with hiring process in Switzerland
National
Glacier 3000 opens new foot bridge spanning two mountains in Vaud
National
Swiss seek special Unesco heritage listing for yodelling and watchmaking
International
Switzerland regarded as best place in world for expats: global survey
National
Red faces at Migros over Hitler and Mussolini coffee cream pots
National
Quarter of workers in Switzerland 'stressed out': new survey
Travel
Lonely Planet ranks Zermatt among top places to visit in 2015
National
Majority of Swiss back proposed new immigration curbs: poll
Features
Eritrean asylum seekers find refuge in Swiss monastery town
National
Expat American professor disputes 'unjust' Swiss citizenship rejection
National
Sputtering eurozone drags down Swiss economic growth forecast
Features
Swiss-based English expat writer lauds immigrant 'brains and brawn'
International
Our survey: Switzerland third priciest for food and drink from back home
National
Zurich market gardener sets world 'record' for heaviest pumpkin
National
Report: Switzerland's residents richer than before economic crash
Features
Geneva lab sleuths use high tech to help art world uncover fakes
National
Father of Scot missing since early September fears Swiss trauma
National
Foreign women give birth to rising share of newborns: latest figures
National
'Giant's penis' bloom in Basel uni botanical garden bigger than ever
National
Switzerland's voters reject public health insurance proposal
National
Zooming foreign immigration continues to boost Swiss population
National
Scientific study rings alarm over wellbeing of Swiss cows with bells
National
Geneva MP seeks ban on charging for tap water in restaurants
Business & Money
Switzerland's residents top world financial wealth list: Allianz report
National
Saint Maurice abbey in Valais celebrates 1,500 years of history
National
Streaming movie video service Netflix arrives in Switzerland
National
Professional Chilean base jumper dives to death in Swiss Alps
Education
ETH Zurich remains top university in Europe: QS world rankings
National
Switzerland's housing vacancy rate jumps: new federal figures
National
Swiss football club fires team masseuse over explicit sex video
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,194
jobs available