A referendum will be held his weekend in Switzerland to decide if government attorneys should be deployed to represent animals in court cases that involve animal rights. "Mr Goetschel is one of a kind in Switzerland. The passionate animal rights advocate fulfils the role of a state-funded public prosecutor for abused pets and farm animals in his home canton of Zurich. He represents an average of 150 to 200 abused animals a year. But if a national referendum goes his way this weekend, there will soon be scores of lawyers like him all over Switzerland fighting in courts up and down the land for the rights of animals. In contrast to the negative publicity the country has received over attitudes to foreigners and Muslims, the Alpine nation may soon win renown as the most animal-friendly country on earth. Opinion polls have indicated that 70 per cent of the Swiss population support the scheme. It is already illegal to keep lone goldfish, guinea pigs, canaries and budgerigars in Switzerland because they could become lonely and suffer as a result. Dog owners have to take training courses and from 2013 it will be against the law to keep horses tied up in their stalls. The poll has been set in motion by the campaign group, Swiss Animal Protection, which gathered the necessary 100,000 signatures to force the nationwide vote. It argues that despite big increases in reported animal abuse, the cases often fail to make it to court because they are not taken seriously enough by the local authorities."