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Swiss law barks up wrong tree

T. Gamble
Feature Columnist

T. Gamble Feature Columnist

According to the Wall Street Journal, Switzerland voted on whether or not to allow animals to have "publicly paid for public defenders" on Sunday.

And you thought Georgia's Public Defense Program was having problems.

Yes, currently Antoine Goetschel is Switzerland's only official animal lawyer, which I guess is one more animal lawyer than America currently has.

He is paid by taxpayer money and currently represents a 4-foot-long, 22-pound pike that suffered the indignity of having his picture in a local paper while the successful fisherman proudly held him for the camera. An animal welfare group filed a complaint, saying this was "reminiscent of a safari hunter with his foot perched on the head of a dead lion."

To which I immediately thought, well, what is wrong with that?

If the referendum passed, all animals will have a court-appointed lawyer to represent them. God knows I hope PETA hasn't found out about this yet.

I hate to tell the Swiss, but as a South Georgia lawyer, I've represented animals most of my career. My divorce clients tell me their husbands are jackasses, dogs, pigs and apes. I've heard of men who smell like a goat, act like a monkey, have the morals of a rabbit, keep house like a pig, are fat as a hog and strut around like a rooster. I've seen spouses who were crazy as a bat, crazy as a loon and dumb as an ox.

I tell you it is a virtual Noah's Ark around here sometimes. Men, on the other hand, keep things simple and usually refer to their spouse, as well, a female dog.

This whole lawyer for the animals thing has me concerned. Boy, if Fathead, my Rottweiler mix who thinks he is a high-class purebred, gets hold of this, I'm done.

I can see it now. Next thing you know, I'll get served papers by the sheriff because he eats Jim Dandy instead of Alpo. He'll want guaranteed housing with air conditioning and heat and free veterinary care.

He'll probably demand the right to sleep on the bed. Who knows? He may be entitled to conjugal visits with the poodle down the road. Speaking of which, I guess it's possible someone could file a child-support action against poor Fathead and I'll be forced to support several dozen halfbreed mongrels who will also be demanding Alpo, a free house and veterinarian care.

He'll probably also demand weekly visits to the groomer to get his nails done. Man, Fathead has never even had a bath, save what water God chose to drop upon him, which is rather substantial considering he doesn't have sense enough to get in out of the rain.

I don't like the way this is shaping up at all. My cat will probably file suit, complaining I force her to live in a hostile environment with Fathead in the yard and my little dog Gal in the house. It appears to be a clearcut case of discrimination and the cat will probably be entitled to receive damages, including me having to pay her attorney fees.

I shudder to think what my pony horse may conjure up based on being forced to share a barn with a jackass. In my defense, all I can say is my wife shares a house with a jackass and seems to be fairing OK, so the horse should do the same.

There really is no end to this nightmare. I guess if I run over the neighbor's dog, I may be sued for wrongful death, Worse yet, if Fathead kills a neighborhood cat, it could bankrupt the family.

Well, I've been too lazy to check and see if the referendum passed. If it did, please don't tell me because before I could spell out Fathead, he'd be on the phone to another sort of jackass ... one call, that's all.

Contact columnist T. Gamble at t@colliergamble.com.