Hype is back, but FUR IS NOT! Year in and year out, the fur industry strives to convince consumers that "fur is back." But the industry's own trade publications, such as Fur World and Sandy Parker Reports, continually tell a different story, calling fur sales "flat" and the international markets "sluggish." In a recent article on the state of the fur industry, the fashion editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Trish Donnally, writes: "How the fabric of society has changed. In the 1950's, almost every American woman dreamed of owning a fur coat...Half a century later, however, people are concerned about the...cruel treatment of animals used for fashion. Hundreds of fur salons have closed across the nation throughout the 90's because of dying demand...Fur sales have been flat...Cash registers are not ringing loudly...even with all the...free publicity provided by big spreads in major fashion magazines...In fact, a recent issue of Sandy Parker Reports...says, 'Although their item [fur] was literally basking in the fashion limelight all year, the fact is that sales were down in most areas of the U.S. '" Today, after decades of high-visibility fur protests, many people are aware of the cruelty behind fur coats and trim. According to an Associated Press poll, 59% of all Americans think it is "always wrong" to kill an animal for its fur.
Trapping Terror It has been widely publicized that each year more than 9 million wild animals are trapped worldwide and then clubbed, strangled and stomped for their pelts. Caught painfully in steel-jaw leghold traps or wire snares, many fur bearers try to free themselves by chewing off their own feet only to die later from shock and blood loss. This act of self-mutilation illustrates how incredible the pain caused by steel-jaw traps really is for wolves, beavers, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and red and gray foxes. And for every "target" animal caught in one of these painful devices, two to ten times as many "non-target" animals are killed: hawks, owls, deer, and domestic cats and dogs. Sometimes the steel-jaw will close on an animal's head. When animals caught in snares try to escape, the wire cuts more deeply into limbs, necks or bodies. Friends of Animals video footage of Alaskan wolves caught in snares horrified those who saw it on three national news broadcasts.
Ranching Torture Contrary to what the fur industry would like the public to believe, animals raised on "ranches" spend their short, miserable lives in dark, filthy cages.They often live with disease and injury, waiting in wide-eyed terror for the day when gloved hands will reach into their cages and drag them to their doom. Minks suffer neck breaking or are stuffed into makeshift boxes pumped full of hot, unfiltered engine exhaust. Sometimes animals are not dead when the exhaust is turned off and they wake up under the shock of being skinned. Lynxes, coyotes, foxes and chinchillas are often killed by anal electrocution, forced to bite down on metal bits while electric rods are inserted into their anuses. Last year, approximately 2 million animals were "ranched" for their furs in the U.S. Internationally, about 30 million animals suffer violently and are killed each year on ranches. It takes 60 dead minks to make one knee-length coat.
'The Wizard of Fur' -- Saga's Steve Gold According to a recent article by Constance White, fashion director of Talk magazine and formerly of the New York Times, "Like so many trends in fashion, fur's revival owes much less to the whimsical vicissitudes of taste than it does to the fact that someone simply decided to revive it. In this case, that person is (Steve) Gold," of the Denmark-based Saga Furs. With the help of the media and celebrity hype, Gold, a top supplier of the world's pelts, has almost single-handedly pushed fur into the public eye. In the mid-1990's Gold devised a plan that is literally bribing young designers into creating fur fashions even when no one is buying. It is Gold's mission to place fur in the spotlight, even if not a single creation is sold. By providing all-expense-paid trips, free pelts and promotion, Gold has lured young designers who never would have considered using fur. But the cruelty of fur will always scar the reputations of designers and Hollywood stars alike. Many famous designers and fashion houses have renounced fur including Giorgio Armani, Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass, Oleg Cassini, Betsey Johnson, Stella McCartney and Todd Oldham.
Disease and Suffering
On Fur "Ranches"
Fur-farming methods are designed to maximize profits at the expense of the animals' health and comfort. Foxes, for example, are kept in cages about 2 feet square with up to four animals per cage. Likewise, minks suffer from close confinement, often developing self-mutilating behaviors.
There are no regulations protecting animals on fur ranches. Cages are typically kept in open sheds that provide little protection from wind, cold, or heat. In the winter, animals often have to endure sub-zero temperatures. Summers are particularly hard on minks because they lack the ability to cool their bodies without bathing in water. Under normal circumstances, minks spend about 70% of their time in water. But on fur farms, where little water is available, their salivation, respiration, and body temperatures increase to unnatural and painful levels. In 1987, about 450,000 minks died on American fur farms due to heat stress alone. Animals live in filth on fur farms and are often victims of disease and pests. For example, fur farm animals are fed meat by-products which are often so grisly that they are unfit even for the pet food industry: calves heads, beef lungs and windpipes, unborn calves, chicken and turkey heads, beef and chicken entrails, cow udders, and fish heads. Bacterial contamination from such a diet threatens the health of the animals --particularly that of newly weaned pups. Contagious diseases--such as viral enteritis and pneumonia--as well as bladder and urinary tract infections are also prevalent on fur farms. Fleas, ticks, lice, and other insects are attracted by the piles of excrement under cages. These piles are often left for months--long enough for insects to infest the animals.
Even death does not come easy on a fur farm. There are no humane slaughter laws to protect animals. And ranchers have devised hideous methods of killing--methods which do not "damage" the animals' pelts:
Small animals often die in makeshift boxes into which hot unfiltered engine exhaust is pumped. Sometimes they are not completely dead when the hose is turned off and they wake up while being skinned.
Foxes are killed by anal electrocution--the insertion of a metal rod into the anus.
Some animals are killed in decompression chambers.
Minks and other animals have their necks broken..
The growing consciousness about the cruelty inherent in fur production is helping to decrease the number of fur ranches in the United States. For example, in 1988, about 6 million animals were raised and killed on American fur ranches. In 1995, the number declined to approximately 2.5 million. In 1988, there were 1,027 mink farms registered with the USDA. Today, there are only 457.
Trapping -Cruel and Barbaric
Wild animals are slaughtered by the millions every year--trapped, clubbed, strangled, and stomped--to serve the exclusive minority of people who wish to wear fur coats. Animals killed for fur in the United States include raccoons, red and gray foxes, beavers, otters, coyotes, wolves, lynxes, bobcats, opossums, badgers, and muskrats. It takes between 30 and 60 of these beautiful animals to make one fur coat.
The vast majority of wild animals killed for fur are captured in steel-jaw leghold traps. While 64 nations have banned the use of leghold traps as cruel and indiscriminate, a powerful fur lobby in this country has limited regulation to just a handful of states. The steel jaw trap is legal in all but eleven states.
The consequences for wild animals has been devastating. For every "target" animal caught in a trap, two to ten times as many "non-target" animals--including squirrels, hawks, owls, pet dogs and cats, and even eagles--are killed in the same trap. Many animals manage to free themselves from leghold traps by chewing off their trapped legs, only to die later from shock and blood loss or as the crippled victim of a hungry predator. Called "wring-off," this horrible act of self- mutilation illustrates the incredible pain and terror experienced by animals in these traps. Fortunately, though, trapping is on the decline. According to auction reports and annually published state trapping records, in 1988, at the height of U.S. retail fur sales, 17 million animals were trapped for their furs. In 1995, however, only about 2 million were trapped.
What You Can Do:
Don't buy or wear fur--either wild-caught or ranch-raised. Every fur coat represents the suffering and death of several dozen animals.
Get the word out! Educate others about the cruelty of the fur industry. Distribute copies of this article or other educational literature about fur to newspapers, magazines, fur stores, student groups. Write letters to the editors of newspapers. Show videos about fur--obtainable from many animal protection organizations, including Friends of Animals.
Remember it takes about 18 dumb animals to make a fur coat, but only one to wear it!!!!