For many of us, the social acceptability of wearing fur seems like a memory of a less enlightened time. Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are now proudly fur-free. Charlize Theron and rock star Bryan Adams are among the public figures who’ve gone on record as opposed to this unnecessary practice.
Yet recently we’ve been told fur is back. In 2013, almost 70% of fashion designers used fur in their autumn/winter collections. And while Gap Inc. has banned fur from all its well-known brands, customers were shocked recently to discover it continues to sell fur items in the US and online through its luxury INTERMIX brand.
Even a wild animal humanely trapped will have given its life so that a human can wear fur, which in the context of fashion is simply unacceptable. But animals trapped in the wild often suffer for days from blood loss, shock, dehydration, frostbite, gangrene and attacks by predators while caught in steel-jaws that cut legs to the bone or intolerable pressure on their necks or struggle for minutes before drowning.
85% of the industry’s skins come from factory farms, where animals are packed into unbearably small cages, often unable to move, and suffer stress, disease, parasites, and other physical and psychological hardships, sometimes driving them to self-mutilate or eat cagemates. The U.K. and the Netherlands have now completely banned these cruel factories.
|But when undercover investigators from Care for the Wild International, Swiss Animal Protection and EAST International toured eight fur farms in China’s Hebei Province in 2005, they found horrors beyond their worst nightmares. They saw foxes, minks, rabbits, and other animals pace and shiver in outdoor wire cages, unprotected from driving rain, freezing nights or scorching sun. Mothers, driven crazy from rough handling and intense confinement and with nowhere to hide when giving birth, would often kill their own litters.These animals were finally pulled from their cages, thrown to the ground and bludgeoned with metal rods or slammed onto hard surfaces. Often they survived, writhing desperately as workers flipped them onto their backs to skin them, stomping on the heads of any struggling too hard to allow a clean cut. After the fur had been peeled off over their heads the bloody, flayed creatures were thrown, some still breathing and blinking, onto a pile, where they could live and suffer on for up to 10 minutes.
More than two million cats and hundreds of thousands of dogs are killed for their fur every year in China, which has no laws to protect the way animals are treated in fur farms. More than 95% of the fur clothing produced in China is sold overseas, 80% to Europe, the US or Japan, often deliberately mislabelled. Even if a fur garment was made in Europe, where minimum welfare standards at least exist, the animals were probably raised and slaughtered elsewhere—possibly on an unregulated Chinese fur farm.
The fur trade is also disastrous for the environment. US mink farms alone annually produce 1,000 tons of phosphorus, much ending up in rivers and streams. Danish farms release more than 8,000 pounds of ammonia a year into the atmosphere. The chemicals used to prevent fur from rotting are equally damaging, and ensure the finished product is far from biodegradable.
That’s why PETA is asking everyone to pledge to be fur-free. Find out more at http://www2.peta.org/site/PageServer?pagename=fur_free_pledge