On Sunday, Swiss Vote on a National Bill To Appoint Public Defenders for Animals. What’s next? No doubt this will be heading our way.
ZURICH—Last month, Antoine Goetschel went to court here in defense of an unusual client: a 22-pound pike that had fought a fisherman for 10 minutes before surrendering.
If you treat fish like objects in a computer game, their dignity is hurt,” Mr. Goetschel argued. A court, however, ruled that Zurich was the wrong jurisdiction for the case, and the defendants were subsequently cleared.
But opponents have seized on another fish tale—Mr. Goetschel’s defense of the big pike— to argue that a mandatory public defender could make for absurd results.
The case revolved around the idea that the pike suffered excessively because of how long it took for the angler to reel it in. Mr. Goetschel lost the case last month, but is considering an appeal. Any further court action would come too late for the pike, which has been eaten.
Mr. Goetschel is the official animal lawyer for the Swiss canton of Zurich, a sort of public defender who represents the interests of pets, farm animals and wildlife. He wound up with the pike as a client when animal-welfare groups filed a complaint alleging animal cruelty in the fish’s epic battle with an amateur angler.
The case emerged after a local newspaper photo showed the fisherman proudly showing off the four-foot-long fish—a scene that, to Mr. Goetschel, was reminiscent of a safari hunter with his foot perched on the head of a dead lion. “It is this Hemingway thinking,” he says. “Why should this be legal when other animals have to be slaughtered in a humane way?”