The number of criminal proceedings in animal welfare cases has been continuously increasing over the past years. 1998 cases were recorded in the TIR database for 2015, which set a new record. TIR considers this to be a positive development, because the number of cases do not show an increase in actual animal abuse, but are rather the result of a more consistent enforcement of animal welfare-related criminal law.
A particularly large number of proceedings were recorded in the canton of St. Gallen. It tops the list both in absolute and relative terms with 4.65 proceedings per 10'000 population and lies well above the national average of 2.76. It is the first time that more than 400 proceedings were recorded in the canton of Zurich, which boasts peak values regarding the number of cases over the last three years in proportion to the number of dogs, cattle, horses, pigs, and chickens kept. This can be attributed above all to the structures that have been created for the enforcement of animal welfare law: in Zurich, the police have a special department for animal welfare and environmental protection and the cantonal veterinary office can take part in animal welfare-related criminal proceedings as a party. In St. Gallen, a specialized prosecutor is responsible for animal welfare-related offenses.
In terms of population size, exceedingly few proceedings are conducted in the cantons of Geneva (3 cases; 0.06 proceedings per 10'000 population), Valais (21 cases, 0.63 proceedings per 10'000 population), and Basel-Land (28 cases; 0.99 proceedings per 10'000 population). The number of proceedings in the canton of Schaffhausen dropped significantly in 2015 to 9 cases, respectively, 1.13 proceedings per 10'000 population.
As in previous years, in 2015, dogs were once again most involved in animal welfare-related criminal proceedings (1156 cases). From 2013 to 2015, the number of cases with dogs measured in terms of the number of animals kept was ten times higher than cases with cattle and 37 times higher than those with pigs. However, 13.4 % of the cases with dogs concerned instances where the animals had been insufficiently supervised and not actual animal abuse. Moreover, almost half of the proceedings related to a failure to provide a certificate of competence, which had no direct impact on the dogs' well-being.
The cantons of Aargau and Thurgau impose average fines of 400 Swiss Franks and thus have the highest monetary penalties for violations of animal welfare law. The average fines imposed throughout the country since 2011 amount to 300 Swiss Franks. In 2015, conditional monetary penalties were imposed 176 times for actual animal welfare-related offenses, with an average of 30 daily units; only six unconditional monetary penalties were imposed and not one imprisonment was ordered. In view of the statutory penal framework and the animal suffering that goes with the underlying offenses, the sanctions imposed are still disproportionately low.