It’s illegal to buy or sell cat and dog meat in Switzerland – but apparently it’s perfectly fine to tuck into your own family pet if the mood takes you. And animal charity SOS Chats Noiraigue reckons up to three per cent of the population – that’s around 250,000 people – are not beyond roasting Rover, filleting Fido or tucking into Tiddles.

Cat served with white wine and garlic appears on traditional Christmas menus in some rural areas, while dog meat is mainly used for making sausages or as a fatty remedy for rheumatism.

“We especially see it in the regions of Lucerne, Appenzell, Jura and in the canton of Bern,” said Tomi Tomek, founder and president of SOS Chats Noirague, quoted by the BBC. “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.”

Now the group – which successfully campaigned for a ban on sales of cat fur in 2013 – has handed in a petition of almost 18,000 signatures to the Swiss parliament, calling for the outdated practice of eating family pets to be outlawed. Signatories include the legendary French film star and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot.

Eva van Bek, spokeswoman for the Food Safety and Veterinary Authority, told the Daily Star: “They must not be sold as a food item, they cannot be donated or offered for sale, but it is true that under current Swiss law owners cannot be prevented from eating their own pets.”

Poor pets. We say the Swiss could do a lot worse than sticking to all that yummy cheese and chocolate.