A SWISS newspaper investigation has turned up an ugly side of the beautiful Alpine land: many people like to include dogs and cats in their diet.
The Tages Anzeiger said farmers in the Appenzell and St Gallen areas in particular slaughter the creatures to eat themselves or to pass on to friends. The favoured breed is a dog that is related to the beefy Rottweiller.
“There’s nothing odd about it,” a farmer told the paper. “Meat is meat. Construction workers in particular like eating it.”
Another farmer told how he raised animals and then called in a butcher friend to kill them when they were ripe for slaughter. And another described how he either shot the creatures – usually adored as pets – or bludgeoned them to death.
According to the report, people ate the meat as “mostbröckli” – more usually a form of beef or ham that is marinated. One farmer said: “No-one knows what it is when you prepare it in this fashion.”
While not on a commercial scale, the practice horrifies animal rights activists in Switzerland – but the eating of such creatures is not forbidden by law. In Switzerland, a person who wants to kill a cat or dog will only be prosecuted if the killing is itself cruel.
The newspaper added: “The surveyed farmers spoke about their special preference only through the assurance of anonymity. All feared a hostile reaction from animal welfare activists and animal lovers.”
There are no official figures about how many of these animals end up on plates, but the paper said it was “particularly popular in the Rhine Valley”.
It added: “One farmer said he had stopped eating it purely because it is ‘frowned upon’ by society. He sees this as the hypocrisy of a society ‘that can get otherwise not enough meat’.”
Lovers of “Fido and Felix” meals are not allowed to sell the flesh commercially, even though some communities have pressed in the past for it to be sold on market days alongside the usual fare of beef, pork and lamb.
The country also has a small but thriving trade in cat pelts for coats and bedspreads.
The Swiss parliament rejected changing the law to protect dogs and cats from human consumption in 1993.
Edith Zellweger of the Salez animal welfare group said: “How unscrupulous can a society be that man eats his best friend?”
She was behind the original drive to get the law changed and will push for legislation again.
The Swiss Federal Veterinary Office said it was a “cultural matter” and pointed out that in countries such as China and Vietnam, dogs are reared specifically to be slaughtered and eaten.