If you love animals, you already know that animals have feelings you need to consider.
In this case, you will love Switzerland too, as they’ve passed quite a few pet-friendly laws. For instance, dog owners must take a course that teaches them how to take care of their dogs, care for their needs and deal with several behavioral situations.
Also, anglers (fishermen) must take a course on humane fishing. Yet, the law about guinea pigs is definitely the most heartwarming one!
Apparently, guinea pigs are among the most sociable animals, just like other rodent species, and this made the Swiss government pass a law in 2008 to ensure they are always kept in company.
In the interest of respecting these “sociable species”, the official text obliges the owners of certain domestic animals to find a partner for their friend.
This might sound silly to some, but the reason for this is that guinea pigs are herd animals, so they need at least one companion, and a cage mate boosts their life quality. The law was part of a legislative push to grant “social rights” to pets that tend to get lonely.
Guinea pigs are considered victims of abuse if they aren’t able to regularly interact with others of their species.
When one of the guinea pigs dies, you need to replace it, or you could face a legal situation. Fortunately, there are now rent-a-guinea pig services in the country that provide partners to live with lonesome guinea pigs for the remainder of their lives.
Yet, they are not the only animals protected from living in isolation in Switzerland.
The Swiss Animal Welfare Act states that guinea pigs, turtles, rabbits or goldfish must not live alone, otherwise, they might suffer from depression.
This law demands to get a companion for goldfish and parrots too, or they need the chance to socialize on a regular basis.
Moreover, while cats can live alone, according to the law in Switzerland, the owner must ensure that it can at least see other cats out the window or in the garden.
According to Le Matin, a “violation of the law on animal welfare can be punished with a fine of up to 10,000 francs.”
Unfortunately, the needs of guinea pigs are often misunderstood by their owners, who wrongly regard them to be ‘easy’ first pets for their kids. Last year, the 24-hour cruelty line of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals(RSPCA) received 1,337 calls from people worried about the welfare of guinea pigs, who are at risk of being neglected or cared for incorrectly.
In a press release on July 16, Guinea Pig Appreciation Day, the RSPCA’s rabbit and rodent expert, Dr. Jane Tyson, stated:
“They are one of the UK’s most misunderstood pets and this is largely because they are seen as an ‘easy, first pet’ for children. Guinea pigs can make fantastic pets but like all animals, they have very complex needs and should never be the sole responsibility of a child.
Sadly, one of the issues we see is that some guinea pigs are still kept in small cages with little chance for exercise or human contact, and possibly, more importantly, no contact with other guinea pigs.”
Dr. Tyson added that they need to live in a large space where they can play and explore together.
The RSPCA has also advised guinea pig owners to provide their pets with tunnels and scatter food about to stimulate and entertain them.