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Old 15.03.2018, 15:40
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What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Hello,

Today I was at the tram stop and there was a very old woman who was obviously in the late stages of dementia. She could barely walk and she was cursing and acting completely unreasonable.

Sadly she had a poor little dog with her...due to his owner's state, you could tell the poor little animal's grooming was completely neglected as well as his emotional state. (She was berating the poor animal and slamming her crutch down on the ground to scare it because it was not moving fast enough.) I tried to do my best to speak with her, but all I got was an aggressive lashing at. I stayed around as long as I could, but she eventually got on a tram and away from anything I could do.

Is there an organization I could perhaps reach out to in Switzerland to help in these instances? Should I just call the tierheim? Do they come to help? I am not trying to tear an animal away from it's owner, but it was obvious that the little guy won't be around much longer under her care. It was obvious the poor woman was as much in need as the dog...

Thanks for your advice!
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:23
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

I'd try "Tierschutz beider Basel"

Quote:
Wir bitten alle Tierfreunde, die Augen offen zu halten und auffällige Tierhaltungen, handle es sich um Heimtiere oder landwirtschaftlich genutzte Tiere, dem TbB zu melden.
"Please keep your eyes open and report any issues with pets or farm animals to the TbB"

Beratungsstelle Tierschutz
Tierschutzbeauftragte
Tel. 061 378 78 10
tierschutztbb.ch
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:31
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Shouldn't your primary focus be on the human rather than on the animal?
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:36
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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Shouldn't your primary focus be on the human rather than on the animal?
No.
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:38
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

This is a situation that should be handled carefully - for the sake of the dog and the woman.

Adopting dogs from awful situations is what I do, of course I understand your concerns, and applaud you for wanting to help.

But I also have some experience working with elderly people, including those with dementia, and understand how important their pets are in providing meaning to their lives, in keeping them going so to speak. And I know how strong the bonds between dogs and their owners are. I've seen elderly dogs pretty much give up on life when taken from their owners, deprived of their primary bond, even if the owner's situation was not appropriate to care for the dog. I've seen all sides of this difficult situation.

---

Understand that taking a pet away from it's owner is a legal step. First there needs to be an interested legal entity with the resources to authorize an investigation.

A complaint needs to be made to the Veterinäramt. This cannot be done anonymously were I live, but I don't know if that is possible in Basel. Certainly anonymous complaints are unlikely to receive the same attention.

If a complaint is viewed as credible and considered a priority, an investigation is made. Investigation means resources, so that is a factor as well.

If an investigation concludes that there is not a situation meriting action, that's it. Possibly a word of advice given.

If an investigation concludes that action should be taken, then the legal process begins. The legal process can take time. And resources.

---

Be aware that you saw a short snap-shot of the how the woman cares for the dog. Sometimes that's enough, but more often IME it is too little information to paint a full or even an accurate picture, let alone enough to take legal action. Unless you know the woman and are in a position to observe 24/7 over a longer period, please understand that at best you are making assumptions. With the best of intentions, an outside observer doesn't always see the full situation.

This is not to make light of your concern, of course not. But just a word of caution, based on experience.

---

IME the best possible solution would be one that tries to help this woman provide a better environment for her dog. If intervention could be made that helped this woman to better care for her dog, that would be my first goal.

If it were determined that the woman could not care for her dog, my next goal would be voluntary relinquishment. If possible, although I know a long shot, I'd like to see a rehoming situation that would allow her some sort of contact if that were in the dog's best interest as well as in hers.

IME, it is generally situations where there is no other hope of a solution, or immediate mortal danger to the animal, that a seizure should to be sought. Seizure is the 'nuclear' option. I hope to find less traumatic - for the animal and the person - solutions first.

---

Do you know the woman, do you know any of her friends or family? Do you see her regularly at the tram stop? Are you in a position to try again to strike up a conversation, try to establish a relationship? Do see her regularly?

If so, if you could learn a bit more about the woman and her dog, learn if she has family, etc. that would be a huge step forward to finding the appropriate help for both.

If you don't know the woman getting help is difficult. A complaint to the Veterinäramt can only be made if you know who the woman is.

What I would do in such a case is to speak to the good people at Tierschutz Beider Basel, linked upthread. Go into this as a general discussion, recount the situation, ask their advice. They cannot step in without legal standing, but they would be the best people to advise you as to how to proceed, they would know local resources and contacts.

I would also suggest a frank discussion as to what the dog's future might hold should he be taken away from his owner. TBB will have a sense of whether this dog would readily find a home, or not.

Another resource could be your local vet, assuming you have one you know well. Many vets 'keep an eye out', try to guide owners they feel might be in need of help to better care for their animals. Again, local knowledge is often the best way to find a solution that works in everyone's best interest.

---

IME these situations are not always black and white, so sensitivity is needed. And always, eyes on the goal of finding the best solution for both the dog and woman.
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:40
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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I'd try "Tierschutz beider Basel"


"Please keep your eyes open and report any issues with pets or farm animals to the TbB"

Beratungsstelle Tierschutz
Tierschutzbeauftragte
Tel. 061 378 78 10
tierschutztbb.ch
Thanks.

Is there anything similar in the Suisse Romande? Specifically la Côté?
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:49
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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Thanks.

Is there anything similar in the Suisse Romande? Specifically la Côté?
SPA La Côte:
http://www.spalacote.ch
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Old 15.03.2018, 16:56
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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IME these situations are not always black and white, so sensitivity is needed. And always, eyes on the goal of finding the best solution for both the dog and woman.
This.

The OP is making an assumption that the lady is "in the later stages of dementia" based on the groom-condition of the dog and the fact she was doddering around cussing at it.

To be fair, that could describe my mum and her dog on any given day when the dog has ripped up a cushion or spent the morning barking at the washing line or whatever. My mum certainly doesn't have dementia and her dog's coat looks like it has been dragged through a hedge even after it has been brushed, so rash diagnosis and judgment is perhaps not wise.

If the dog was bone-thin and covered in sores then, ok, then perhaps it's one to keep an eye on and act sooner rather than later, but a pissed off old biddy and her scruffy dog is perhaps not cause for running to the authorities, otherwise my mum would have been pounced on years ago.

I would tread carefully.
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Old 15.03.2018, 19:04
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

I can thoroughly recommend the SPA La Côte. This is where Rookie and Lilly stay when we are away from home. The staff cannot do enough for their/our "friends". In fact, the last time our babies stayed there, Rookie did not want to leave!
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Old 15.03.2018, 21:01
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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Shouldn't your primary focus be on the human rather than on the animal?
Yes. But it's possible to care about both, surely?
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Old 16.03.2018, 09:50
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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Yes. But it's possible to care about both, surely?
Of course. But OP asks about what to do for the animal only despite
"It was obvious the poor woman was as much in need as the dog..."
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Old 16.03.2018, 16:19
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Thanks all for your advice, perhaps I was being too kind with my words...but the woman was being outright abusive. The dog cowered in her presence, had a severe limp and had obviously been injured at some point without proper care in addition to poor grooming. I know I need to tread carefully, I will keep an eye out in the future and see if the situation improves. There is only so much one can do. I do not know the woman, but I have seen her regularly and been concerned for some time. I have tried speaking with her very kindly, only to be yelled at.

I would like to help the woman...but I’m not able to be in the business of saving the whole world & I am more concerned about innocent creatures who can’t defend or help themselves. Sandgrounder, I don’t know your mom so need to take it personally OK? From the sound of it, she sounds nothing like the woman I saw who clearly was not of normal mental capacity...I did not rush to judgement on her mental state.

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Old 18.03.2018, 02:06
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Barring immeditate danger to the animal:

I've found that in order to help an animal it is often most effective to go in softly, even when my instinct is to rush in like an avenging angel. Because the latter, while perhaps justified, often ends up with the animal in a worse situation than before.

When an owner feels cornered, he or she is rarely receptive to advice or help.

A typical approach when I see something worrying is to try to engage the owner in conversation. Not as a judgement or criticism but as friendly small talk, usually something like 'Oh, what a lovely dog! I once had a dog like him, such wonderful characters, gosh I miss mine. How old is he?' Continue with similar platitudes, pleasant small talk often gets others to open up a bit.

I try to draw the person out, find out about the dog, get a sense of the relationship. Sometimes the conversation turns to troubles with the dog, or with the person's life as it affects the dog, at that point I try to offer advice if the person seems receptive.

If I can help in a way that is appropriate for a stranger to offer, I do so. If I can't help, I try to suggest resources that will lead to getting the owner help.

While I am talking to the person, I also watch the dog, his reactions and body language. These conversations give me a better sense of the urgency of the situation.

I then try to be at the same spot at the same time for the next few days, hoping to see the owner, hoping for another opportunity to talk.

---

If the conversation is alarming, if it confirms an appearance of abuse, then the next step is speaking to an appropriate authority. But having spoken at length, even better over several conversations, at least then you have more information to act upon.

As per the above posts, first place for advice would likely be TBB. Were it me I would start there, these are good people whose mission is more in line with what I would hope for as an outcome. Their advice would then lead to next steps.

If you want to make an official complaint, that would be to the cantonal Veterinäramt.

---

Of course in a situation where the animal is actively being abused, I intervene.

If an owner is physically harming an animal, if there is immediate danger, call the police. Engage other passers-by as witnesses, especially if you do not speak fluent Dialekt - this is important. Be aware of your personal safety, as if someone is enraged to the point of hitting an animal that person could also hit you. Do not engage with the person if it is unsafe to do so, again - call the police.

---

Please understand that I am not questioning your judgement, but again a word of caution:

A couple days after adopting Psychocollie a woman stopped me on the street, accused me of abuse, threaten to report me to animal welfare. (And she would have then and there, had this not been before the dawn of mobile phones.)

You see, Psychocollie was in terrible shape: thin as a rail, visible scars, clearly unhealthy, coat matted and grimy. Fearful body language, he cowered at every sudden movement.

He looked like a classic abuse case - which he was. Except that I wasn't the abuser, I was the rescuer, we had just started the long journey towards rehabilitation together. But to an outsider the situation looked very different.

I always try to remember that as I look at other people and their dogs.

---

If you speak to TBB, may I ask that you update us as to their advice? That information would be useful for others if they, too, find themselves in a similar situation.

Good on ya for caring - and I hope this sad situation can be resolved in the best way for all.

Last edited by meloncollie; 18.03.2018 at 02:24.
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Old 18.03.2018, 09:32
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Personally, I'd be, discretely if possible, trying to get some photos that effectively show the situation, at least with a good handy, preferably with a decent camera. If they display what you describe, they will be much more believable and effective to show a local police station or the TBB. Could be she is already known, but your photos could tip the scale toward some action.

Do not publish the photos here or elsewhere, that could lead to complications.
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Old 18.03.2018, 10:49
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Is the SPA La Cote able to do anything when an animal is being mistreated?

We have talked to the owners who carefully explain that it is a hunting dog, not a pet and it likes the conditions in which it lives. They are not prepared to do anything else. The husband is a hunter and has been seen loading/unloading his guns.

Dog is also wearing a collar that shocks him (No idea how much or how long) if it goes outside his area. Makes him yip and cower. I thought that wasn't permitted.
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Old 18.03.2018, 12:25
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

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I

Dog is also wearing a collar that shocks him (No idea how much or how long) if it goes outside his area. Makes him yip and cower. I thought that wasn't permitted.
Electric collars are banned for general use by the public under article 76.2-6 of the TSchV: (French version linked below.)

There is one exceptation, certain qualified behaviorists may apply for a time limited special permit to use them for specific theraputic purposes. The conditions are outlined.

But Hans Ueli Hundehalter may not use these devises. Punkt, Fertig. (And before anyone jumps in: Yes you may buy these pain and fear inducing devises here. But you may not use them. As often is the case in Switzerland.)

https://www.admin.ch/opc/fr/classifi...796/index.html


2 L'utilisation d'appareils qui donnent des décharges électriques, qui émettent des signaux sonores très désagréables pour le chien ou qui agissent à l'aide de substances chimiques est interdite.

3 Sur demande, l'autorité cantonale peut autoriser les personnes justifiant des capacités requises à utiliser exceptionnellement à des fins thérapeutiques des appareils qui donnent des décharges électriques ou qui émettent des signaux sonores très désagréables pour le chien. Elle vérifie que la personne a les capacités requises. Après avoir entendu les cantons, le Département fédéral de l'intérieur (DFI) fixe le contenu et la forme de la formation et de l'examen.1

4 Celui qui utilise des appareils soumis à autorisation doit en documenter chaque utilisation. Cette personne adresse, à l'autorité cantonale, à la fin de chaque année civile, une liste des utilisations de ces appareils qui mentionne:

a.la date de chaque utilisation;
b.le motif de l'utilisation;
c.le mandant;
d.le signalement et l'identification du chien;
e.le résultat de l'utilisation.
5 Les moyens auxiliaires placés autour de la gueule du chien pour l'empêcher de mordre doivent être adaptés à son anatomie et lui permettre de haleter suffisamment.

6 L'utilisation de moyens auxiliaires pour empêcher les chiens d'émettre des sons et d'exprimer leur douleur est interdite.



----

So what does this mean?

Unless the hunter has a cantonal permit to use the shock collars he is breaking the law. That alone should be enough to make a complaint.


---

ETA, with a few thoughts:

The TSchV distinguishes between 'Nutzhund', which includes hunting dogs, and 'Begleithund', pets. However, there are only a few specific instances of things where treatment of Nutzhunde is different than any other dog.

Are you concerned that the accomodation is not sufficient? If so, take a look at
Art 72, which describes requirements for accomodation
Anhang, Table 10, which shows minimum measurements for kennels.

Take a look also at the following articles in the TSchV linked above, specifically:
Art 71, which lays out how much free movement a dog must have
Art 73, which describes additional forbidden practices in handling dogs
Art 75, which describes training hunting dogs.

Do you think the way the dog is treated, trained, sheltered is in line with these regs?

Now - there is also a set of laws and regulations covering hunting. I know nothing about hunting or hunting law. But since the hunter was adamant that the dog is a Nutzhund and not a pet, again I'd want to understand better any hunting regulations affecting dogs before speaking to him again. I think, but am not certain, that hunting regs are cantonal.

I've tried a superficial search of 'chiens de chasse' + Vaud, but didn't find anything that contradicts the TSchV. But my French is abominable, so I might have missed something obvious.

Which brings us back to the folks at the SPA. If they don't know about the specifics governing treatment of hunting dogs, they should be able to point you in the right direction.


---

Will anyone official care or take action? Aye, there's the rub.

Switzerland has some of the best animal protection and welfare legislation on the books, but unfortunately there is all too often little social will nor public resources allocated to enforce those laws. A lot of blind eyes get turned, especially when the person the complaint is lodged against has 'Vitamin B' locally.

But speak to the SPA anyway. Ask them for advise, they will know local enforcement attitudes - and hopefully they can help.

The official body charged to dealing with complaints is usually the cantonal Veterinäramt. But you might get a more sympathetic ear from the SPA so I would start there first.

Kudos to you for wanting to help.

Last edited by meloncollie; 19.03.2018 at 11:53.
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Old 18.03.2018, 13:36
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Re: What to do when you see a neglected animal in Switzerland

Good things do happen...

Last week friends in Aarau were walking their dogs along the Aare. As they were rounding a bend a lone dog comes toward them, looking around, somewhat distressed. Sits down in front of my friends and looks at them expectantly. They pet him and looked around for the owner, ask passersby, no sign of an owner. Doggie waits patiently.

Finally friends call the police. No messages about lost dogs, tell friends to stay where they are, will send someone. Fifteen minutes later, police car pulls up, located friends by handy GPS. Policeman and woman climb out, very friendly, ask questions, check dog out that fairly radiates good health. Go back to the car, come back with a chip reader. Read the chip, find out the owner and call him up. No answer, so stand around chatting a while then try owner again. Owner answers.

Owner husband thought the dog was with wife and kids, wife and kids thought doggie was with husband. Police pack doggie in their doggie cage and take doggie home.

Police allow no direct contact between owner and finder, privacy laws, but told friends what they heard.

What happened between negligent owners and police may be another story, but it was evident the police held the dog's interest in the foreground.
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