STS: Is there a structural problem in Swiss animal protection?


Swiss animal protectionNicole Ruch: “I didn’t fail”

The elected President of the Swiss Animal Protection Agency, Nicole Ruch, was escorted out of the hall at the delegates’ meeting to boos. Nevertheless, she is not aware of any guilt.

Letizia Vecchio
  • Nicole Ruch was voted out as President of the Swiss Animal Protection Agency at the end of January.

  • She herself believes that she has not made any mistakes.

  • There are currently two cases pending against the STS, which will cause major damage to the club’s reputation.

Swiss Animal Protection (STS) has been criticized for months, especially because of the allegedly dubious leadership style of its now ex-president Nicole Ruch: she was only removed from office at the association’s delegate meeting on January 27th. Now she spoke out about it “Tages-Anzeiger” about her deselection: “I didn’t fail,” she says. And it goes on to say: “In the next two years I would have turned the STS into a real gem.” However, she does not want to comment on the accusations that are repeatedly made against her or rather rejects them all. Her critics, on the other hand, accuse her of, among other things, an authoritarian leadership style and excessive expense bills.

And there is something much more in the air: According to research by the “Tages-Anzeiger”, Nicole Ruch has brought two legal proceedings against the club. For example, there is a case pending in Basel that concerns the delegate conference itself. The plaintiffs want a new, unencumbered presidium and central board to be presented by autumn 2024 at the latest, otherwise they want to enforce this through legal means.

Proceedings for unfair management

The second case concerns unfaithful management in real estate management. Several members of the association, including board members, filed a criminal complaint against Ruch. The accusation: Ruch sold animal welfare properties below value. The STS has numerous properties that it has inherited from donors, for example. Nicole Ruch denies this and the police are investigating. The damage to the reputation of the STS – regardless of the outcome of the proceedings – is great. After all, who wants to donate money to an organization that does potentially dubious work?

But the problems surrounding Ruch are apparently only one side of the coin. Because there were always conflicts with previous presidents of the club. For example, with former President Marianne Staub. She resigned in 2000 because internal quarrels became her undoing. Her successor, Heinz Lienhard, who led the club for 20 years, also faced repeated criticism: Despite numerous successes in animal protection, he was accused of running the club like a patriarch. The role of his wife, who was responsible for finances, was also controversial. Today we would say this is a potential compliance issue.

Piero Mazzoleni will be the new president

Now the STS wants to solve the structural problems and present the club with a new, scandal-free face. The lawyer Piero Mazzoleni has been the new president of the umbrella organization for two weeks. He wants to offer more transparency when it comes to finances. But he’s not really new; he’s been vice president of the club since 2020. But he only wants to be an interim president – but for how long that will be is unclear.

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