Petition to get dogs, cats off X'mas menu

GENEVA - It appears that Asians are not the only ones with a penchant for eating Fido.

Hundreds of thousands of Swiss eat dogs as well as cats, according to an animal rights group that has demanded the government make it illegal for man to bite dog.

The activists handed members of the Swiss Parliament a petition on Tuesday, demanding that they outlaw the eating of pets - a tall order in a country where cat still appears on traditional Christmas menus in some areas.

"Around 3 per cent of the Swiss secretly eat cat or dog," Tomi Tomek, founder and president of animal protection group SOS Chats Noiraigue, told AFP.

"We especially see it in the regions of Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern."

Dog meat goes mostly into making sausages and a fatty remedy for rheumatism, Ms Tomek said.

Cats get cooked for Christmas in the same style as rabbit - with white wine and garlic - especially around Bern, Jura and Lucerne.

The Swiss are also among the world's biggest consumers of horse meat.

It is impossible to say how many dogs and cats end up in Swiss cooking pots every year, according to the activists.

"A political leader told us Parliament won't do anything unless people revolt," Ms Tomek said.

"The Swiss need to take care of this themselves.

"Presently, we can't do anything because the law does not forbid people from eating their dog or cat, we can't even turn in those who engage in this practice," she said.

Her group, which gathered a 16,000-name petition to outlaw the eating of pets, forced a ban on the sale of cat fur last year.

Notable signers of the petition include French actress Brigitte Bardot, who has dedicated her life to fighting for animal rights.

"We are asking simply for a paragraph in the law on protecting domestic animals," Ms Tomek said.