The video sequences
published by the animal rights group PEA
show serious violations of the Swiss Animal Welfare Act (AWA) by employees of the slaughterhouses in Avenches and Moudon. The footage shows workers repeatedly handling animals very roughly and using stunning equipment improperly. As a result, the animals suffer severely and are subjected to unnecessary pain and distress. The workers' behavior therefore constitutes animal abuse pursuant to article 26 paragraph 1 litera a of the AWA. The improper use of the stunning equipment also constitutes a violation of the Ordinance of the FSVO (Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office) on animal welfare during slaughter (VTSchS) as well as against article 28 paragraph 1 litera f of the AWA and can also constitute a killing of an animal in a cruel manner pursuant to article 26 paragraph 1 litera b of the AWA.
The capability to suffer and the sentience of farm animals (particularly cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats) is often ignored in the conventional meat and dairy industry, despite the fact that these animals are equally covered by the scope of the animal welfare legislation as are all other vertebrates. Their welfare and dignity are protected by law, as is the case with dogs and cats. Animals are to be respected in their intrinsic value, not as mere goods and a means to someone else's ends. The principle laid down in article 4 of the AWA, according to which anyone handling animals must meet their needs as best as possible and ensure their well-being as far as the intended purpose permits, also applies during the slaughter of animals. According to article 179e of the Animal Welfare Ordinance (AWO), the operator of the slaughterhouse is responsible for compliance with the provisions of the animal welfare legislation. Slaughterhouse employees may not inflict unjustified pain, suffering or harm on the animals, frighten them, unnecessarily overexert them or otherwise disregard their dignity.