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Legislation in Switzerland re dogs

Legislation in Switzerland re dogs

Legislation in force in Switzerland regarding dogs and applicable to members of permanent missions and international civil servants who own dogs

1. Obligation for registration in the Animal Identity Service (ANIS) database, in Bern

ANIS provides an independent database for pet animals, operating throughout Switzerland.  ANIS database

Starting from 1 January 2007, all dogs must be marked uniquely and in such a way as to prevent falsification by implanting a microchip, and they must be registered in the ANIS database.

Dogs imported from abroad must be presented to a veterinarian in Switzerland within 10 days following entry into the country. The veterinarian must declare these dogs for registration in the ANIS database (including the foreign microchip or tattoo number) within the following 10 days. There is no automatic transmission to Switzerland of any data already registered in another country.

The regulations do not require a microchip to be implanted in the case of any dog bearing a perfectly legible tattoo. Nevertheless, tattooed dogs must also be registered in the national ANIS database (with a declaration made through a veterinarian).

2. Animal protection

With regard to how to treat and look after one’s dog, the Federal Ordinance, of 23 April 2008, on the protection of animals includes, in particular, the following provisions (see Articles 22 and 68).

  • Dogs must, each day, have sufficient contact with human beings and, as far as possible, other dogs.
  • Those kept in closed premises must be able, every day, to take exercise according to their needs and must, as far as possible, be able to romp in the open air.
  • Those kept tied up must be able to move around in an area of at least 20 m2 (20 square metres), and must not be attached using a choke chain.
  • Those kept in the open air must have a shelter and water available.
  • Anyone looking after a dog must take the measures necessary to prevent the dog endangering either human beings or animals.
  • Treating dogs with excessive harshness, firing shots to punish them, and using spike collars are prohibited.

3. Requirement to take a course in theory and in practice

In accordance with article 68, paras 1 and 2 of OPAn,

  • Persons who have acquired a dog between 1 September 2008 and 31 December 2016 must be able to provide a certificate of competence (theoretical course) proving that they have learnt how to keep and to handle dogs. Persons who can prove that they already had a dog before 1 September 2008 do not need to satisfy this condition.
  • Persons who became responsible for looking after a dog after 1 September 2008 must, in the year following the acquisition of the dog, obtain a certificate proving that they can keep control of their dog in everyday situations (practical course).

Members of staff of a permanent Mission or of an international organisation who hold a legitimation card issued by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) must attend the courses mentioned above.

4. Regulations regarding dogs in each canton

Most of the Swiss cantons have regulations about dogs, particularly in relation to looking after dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs (such as bull terriers, Dobermans and Rottweilers). Most of the cantons have drawn up a list of dogs that are considered dangerous or potentially dangerous. 

Members of staff of a permanent Mission or of an international organisation who own a dog are requested to find out about the relevant legislation from the competent authority, i.e. the cantonal veterinary office, in their canton of residence.

A summary is presented below of the situation in some of the Swiss cantons.

4.1 Canton of Basel-Land

  • Owners who are not able to exercise complete control over their dogs must keep them on a leash.
  • All dogs must be covered by civil-liability insurance (to be entered into with a private insurance company).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office, which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.).

4.2 Canton of Basel-Stadt 

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash during the hours from 22.00 to 06.00 and at all times in restaurants, streets and places with significant numbers of people.
  • All dogs must be covered by civil-liability insurance (to be entered into with a private insurance company).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office, which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.).

4.3 Canton of Bern 
 

  • The canton of Bern does not have any particular law regarding dogs, forbidden breeds or authorisation to own.
  • However, dog owners must respect the federal and cantonal legislation regarding the protection of animals. The federal law of 23 April 2008 on the protection of animals (OPAn; RS 455.1) requires, for example, from future owners to provide an attestation of competence that proves that they have acquired competencies on how to own and treat dogs (art. 68, al. 1), and to attend a practical course (art. 68, al. 2) during the year following the acquisition of the animal.
  • The OPAn also deals with aspects related to security. Any person owning or training a dog must take the necessary measures guaranteeing that their animal does not put human beings or other animals in danger (art. 77). The cantonal ordinance of 21 January 2009 on the protection of animals sets in detail the execution of the federal legislation by citing measures that the authorities can take in case of biting (OCPA; RSB 916.812).
  • If the dog owner can prove that he has already owned a dog, he does not have to attend the theoretical course. The practical course, however, must be followed with each dog.

4.4 Canton of Fribourg 

  • Each municipality (or “commune”) may enact specific rules (such as an obligation to keep a dog on a leash, or prohibiting them access to certain locations).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office (which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.). These dogs must be kept on a leash in any public areas within the canton.

4.5 Canton of Geneva

  • All dogs must be insured. The relevant insurance is known as a civil-liability insurance for dog owners and must be taken out with a private insurance company.
  • All dogs must be vaccinated against rabies (DEFENSOR 3, RABDOMUN, RABISIN et NOVBIVA RABIES).
  • Entry to some public parks is prohibited to all dogs. In certain others parks, dogs must be kept on a leash. (Refer to the information boards).
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs (15 breeds). The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office (SCAV), which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.). Such a dog must be muzzled as soon as it leaves its home.
  • By 1 April 2012 at the latest, all dogs must wear the official control mark 2012 fixed clearly to their collars. Owner may obtain this mark from their commune or, in Geneva, from a municipal police station (see the informative note on dogs tax) by presenting the following documents:
    a) confirmation that the dog has been registered with the ANIS database;
    b) confirmation of possession of a dog owner's civil-liability insurance for 2012;
    c) vaccination certificate, with anti-rabies vaccine and valid vaccinal protection; for the vaccines DEFENSOR 3, RABDOMUN, RABISIN and NOVIBAC RABIES, validity is 3 years;
    d) confirmation that a theoretical course has been taken or a statement of exemption issued by the SCAV;
    e) confirmation that a practical course has been taken or a statement of exemption issued by the SCAV.

4.6 Canton Vaud

  • In any public areas within the canton, the owner of a dog, of whatever breed, must be able to control it, at any moment, by some action or sound. Failing that, the animal must be kept on a leash, or even require to be muzzled.
  • There are specific measures in force relating to dangerous or potentially dangerous dogs, namely American Staffordshire Terriers (“Amstaffs”), Pit Bull Terriers and Rottweilers. The owners of such dogs must declare them to the cantonal veterinary office, which will tell the owner what steps must be taken (requesting authorization for possession of the dog, dog-training requirements, etc.).
 

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