Swiss fairs slammed for poor treatment of animals

Animals exhibited at fairs and contests in Switzerland are often not treated properly, according to a report by the Swiss animal protection body PSA.

Swiss fairs slammed for poor treatment of animals
Rabbit shows were among those visited by the PSA. Photo: Hans Splinter

Veterinary experts called on by the association visited 13 national and regional fairs in Switzerland during 2015 and found many to be falling short of minimum recommendations when it comes to the conditions in which animals are held.

Of those attended – including several national fairs, two dog shows, a cat show, a rabbit exhibition and three reptile fairs – only a few kept their animals in “exemplary” conditions, said the report.

Rodents, rabbits and birds were often held for long periods in cages that were too small for them, it said.

The PSA also highlighted the practice of using forbidden toiletries and presentation leashes on dogs and cats.

“Dogs and cats were groomed excessively, with dogs pulled about and strangled in the ring,” it said, picking out a dog show in Fribourg for such behaviour.

“The banning of presentation leashes and necklaces without a stop mechanism has clearly not reached the ears of the exhibitors or judges,” it added.

While some shows treated their farm animals well, others held cows, goats and sheep for days at a time, a practice condemned by the PSA.

“It’s a fact that during numerous shows they are forced to suffer in small enclosures throughout the day, directly in contrast to their natural behaviour,” it said.

All three of the reptile fairs visited by the PSA followed the tradition of exhibiting their animals in “cramped” displays in which the reptile was visible on all sides, giving it “no possibility to retreat”.

The presentation of live prey for the reptiles – specifically rats and mice – was also criticized as falling short of animal protection rules.

“Animals are less protected during shows than they are during transportation. With shows that last several days the conditions in which animals are kept are clearly beneath the minimum recommendations for the protection of animals,” it added.

However the report did pick out some better examples, naming a national rabbit show in Sempach, in the canton of Lucerne, as one exhibition that had made improvements.

Others had followed the PSA's recommendations after the previous year's report, it added.

“The PSA is not against the principle of exhibiting animals, but demands conditions that respect the well-being of the animals with good structures and enough room,” it said, adding that shows must take responsibility for the creatures they exhibit.

The organization also criticized the legal dispensations for fairs which allowed animals to be held for days at a time in conditions below the recommended minimum.  

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