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Top court upholds death sentence — for a dog

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Top court upholds death sentence — for a dog
A Hovawart dog (not the one involved in the court case). Photo: Faigl.ladislav/Wikimedia Commons
21:00 CET+01:00
Switzerland's highest court has upheld a death sentence, although it doesn't apply to a human.

In a judgment made public on Thursday, the supreme court ruled that euthanasia was the only solution for Chalom, a seven-year-old dog impounded in the canton of Vaud after biting several people.

Veterinary officials seized the blond Hovawart in 2012 with the intention of putting it down after the animal was blamed for a string of attacks.

However, Chalom’s owner, from Yverdon-les-Bains, appealed the decision by the cantonal veterinary office without success in the Vaud cantonal court.

He further appealed the ruling to the top federal court, based in Lausanne.

The supreme court found that the documented attacks by the dog confirmed that the animal posed a significant risk to the public, the ATS news agency reported.

It said that the euthanasia of a dog is a “proportionate measure” when it becomes the only appropriate and necessary way to prevent the risk of new attacks.

The owner had proposed placing the dog with a Zurich couple but the court said this did not sufficiently guarantee the safety of the public.

The option of permanently keeping the dog in a kennel would not be compatible with the dignity of the animal, the ruling said, according to ATS.

The court said that an arrangement of this sort would violate the Swiss federal law on the protection of animals.

The 24heures newspaper said online that Chalom’s owner is considering appealing the judgment to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The newspaper noted that problems with the dog first surfaced in 2009 when it scratched young girls playing with it.

In 2010, it attacked the wife of the dog’s owner and later the same year grabbed the arm of person subletting from the owner.

Two years later, a victim who was hospitalized filed a complaint after being bitten in the face and the hands.

The Hovawart is not typically found on lists of dangerous dogs, although it was originally bred in Germany as a guard dog.

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