say no to fur
Despite a wealth of alternatives, many fashion designers have resumed using real fur in their collections, turning their backs on the shocking suffering endured by animals reared on fur farms. An undercover investigation released by Animal Defenders International (ADI) in 2010, shows over 30 Finnish fur farms visited in the 12 months prior, and dispels myths about how animals used for fur are raised.
Foxes and mink are wild animals, and on fur farms they cannot cope with life in barren metal cages. Many exhibit abnormal behaviour. Worse still, the conditions on these farms are disgusting, and the animals’ short, miserable lives are spent in squalid surroundings, where they suffer injuries, infections and deformities. Finland is the largest supplier of fox fur pelts in the world, producing almost half of the fox fur in circulation.
The ADI investigation reveals the shocking reality that industry accreditation schemes for Finnish fur farms are meaningless. The ADI “Fur Stop” campaign was launched in February 2010, to coincide with winter fashion week in Europe. In London, Twiggy and Jenni Falconer publicly voiced their horror at the return of fur. The campaign has the support of many other celebrities, including Stella McCartney, Mary McCartney, Meg Mathews, Ricky Gervais, Samantha Janus and Belinda Carlisle.
ADI Chief Executive Jan Creamer said, “Some in the fashion industry have chosen to close their eyes and hearts to the truth about fur production. Our investigation is a wake-up call – it is no longer acceptable to ignore the suffering, and designers must take responsibility for the way their fur is produced. Customers of designers who use fur will be appalled to discover just how cruelly animals whose skin is used in these collections were treated. We sincerely hope the report provides everyone with the evidence they need to make a truly informed choice about using real fur for fashion.”
fur: mean, not “green”
Fur has fallen so far from grace that furriers are now trying to convince consumers that pelts are ‘eco-friendly.’ But nothing could be further from the truth! Furs are loaded with chemicals to keep them from decomposing in the buyer’s closet, and fur production pollutes the environment and gobbles up precious resources. And don’t forget: Unlike faux fur, the ‘real thing’ causes millions of animals to suffer every single year.
Did you know that more than 60 times as much energy is needed to produce fur coats from ranch-raised animals than is needed to produce fake furs? And that’s just the beginning.
The waste produced on fur farms where animals spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy cages, constantly pacing back and forth from stress and boredom is poisoning our waterways. In December 1999, for example, the Washington Department of Ecology fined one mink farmer $24,000 for polluting ditches that drain into a local creek.
The Environmental Protection Agency has also filed complaints against companies involved in fur production and transportation for illegally generating and disposing of hazardous waste from processing pelts. Improper handling of waste can cause water contamination. The fur industry has even lobbied governments in the Great Lakes area to maintain low water-quality standards so that fur farms won’t be identified as major polluters.
Furriers claim that the carcasses from animals skinned for their pelts are used for animal feed (even though many animals on fur farms are killed by being injected with poisons), but often they end up dumped in landfills. A fur farm in Great Britain was accused of violating waste-disposal laws after a local resident found skinned mink carcasses in a landfill there. Although wasteful, this method of disposal would not be illegal in the United States.
trapping and trashing wildlife
At the time of writing, approximately 30 percent of the fur sold in the U.S. comes from animals trapped in the wild. As anyone who stops to think about it will quickly realise, traps are indiscriminate: They catch any animal unfortunate enough to stumble upon them. Every year, hundreds of thousands of dogs, cats, birds, and other animals including endangered species are ‘accidentally’ crippled or killed by traps. Trappers call these animals ‘trash kills’ because they have no economic value, and most are simply discarded like garbage. Animals who survive and are released often die later from their injuries.
jaws and paws
There are various types of traps, including snares, box traps, and cage traps, but the leghold trap is the most widely used. This simple but barbaric device has been banned in 63 countries, as well as in Florida, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Arizona.(3) When an animal steps on the leghold trap spring, the trap’s jaws slam on the animal’s limb. Dr. Robert E. Cape explains that “if the trap is properly anchored, the captured animal will struggle to get loose, mutilating the foot and causing deep, painful lacerations. Or the animal will attempt escape by chewing or twisting off the trapped extremity. Ten to 12 hours after being captured, the animal is still in pain.” After a prolonged time, he explains, trapped animals “will suffer from exhaustion, since they expend such a great amount of energy in attempting to escape. With exhaustion, the animal suffers from exposure, frostbite, shock, and eventually death.”(4)
death and disease
Contrary to fur industry propaganda, there is no ecologically sound reason to trap animals for “wildlife management.” In fact, trapping disrupts wildlife populations by killing healthy animals needed to keep their species strong, and populations are further damaged when the parents of young animals are killed. Left alone, animal populations can and do regulate their own numbers. Even if human intervention or an unusual natural occurrence caused an animal population to rise temporarily, the group would soon stabilise through natural processes no more cruel, at their worst, than the pain and trauma of being trapped and slaughtered by humans. Killing animals because they might starve or might get sick is only an excuse for slaughter motivated by greed.
Don’t believe the fur industry’s lies: Fur hurts animals and the environment.
China’s shocking dog and cat fur trade
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) conducted an undercover investigation into the Chinese dog and cat fur trade to show you what the industry is so desperate to hide. Even our veteran investigators were horrified at what they found: Millions of dogs and cats in China are being bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and strangled with wire nooses so that their fur can be turned into trim and trinkets. This fur is often deliberately mislabelled as fur from other species and is exported to countries throughout the world to be sold to unsuspecting customers in retail stores. China supplies more than half of the finished fur garments imported for sale in the United States, so the bottom line is that because dog and cat fur is so often mislabelled, if you’re buying fur, there’s no way to tell whose skin you’re wearing.
PETA went into an animal market in Southern China and found cats and dogs languishing in tiny cages, visibly exhausted. Some had been on the road for days, transported in flimsy wire-mesh cages with no food or water. Twenty cats were forced into a single cage. Because of the cross-country transport in such deplorable conditions, our investigators saw dead cats on top of the cages, dying cats and dogs inside the cages, and dogs and cats with open wounds. Some animals were lethargic or frightened, and others were fighting with each other, driven insane from confinement and exposure.
Up to 8,000 animals are loaded onto each truck, with cages stacked on top of each other. Cages containing live animals are commonly tossed from the top of the trucks onto the ground 10 feet below, shattering the legs of the animals inside them. Many of the animals we saw still had collars on, a sign that they were once someone’s beloved companions, stolen to be made into fur coats.
Karakul lamb fur: cruelty on the catwalk
As if peddling the skin and fur of a tortured, electrocuted adult animal weren’t bad enough, some heartless designers take fashion cruelty to a whole new level with a particularly grisly “killer” look: astrakhan, also known as “broadtail” or “Persian wool” – the fur of newborn and fetal karakul lambs who are bred by the thousands in Central Asia for the bloody fur trade.
Because their unique, highly prized curly fur begins to unwind and straighten within three days of birth, many karakul lambs are slaughtered when they are only 1 or 2 days old. The rest don’t even make it that far. In order to get a karakul fetus’s hide – called “broadtail” in the industry and valued for its exceptional smoothness – the mother’s throat is slit and her stomach slashed open to remove the developing lamb. A mother typically gives birth to three lambs before being slaughtered along with her fourth fetus, about 15 to 30 days before it is due to be born. As many as 4 million karakul lambs are slaughtered for their fur every year.
The fur industry tries to justify karakul lamb fur as a byproduct, but with a single karakul lamb coat selling for up to $12,000 and “broadtail” fetus coats fetching as much as $25,000, it’s little surprise that the mother sheep and her baby’s skinned carcass are usually regarded simply as trash.
And who’s profiting from such disgusting cruelty? Designers Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jean-Paul Gaultier use astrakhan, and Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s sell it on their own racks. But fashionistas with a heart aren’t buying it. Claudia Croft, fashion editor of the Sunday Times Style Magazine in London recently called astrakhan “the cruelest and most vicious fur.” And “Material Girl” Madonna hasn’t been seen in her astrakhan coat since designer pal Stella McCartney scolded her for “wearing a fetus.”
what can you do about karakul lamb fur?
- Don’t buy or wear any fur.
- If you see karakul lamb fur for sale, write to the store owners or managers, let them know where it comes from, and urge them to pull it from the shelves.
Furriers say their “farms” are modern: Their cages are spacious and clean, the animals are happy, and death is humane. You be the judge. A special report from US-based People for the Ethical Treatments of Animals.
Animals raised to become someone’s fur coat spend their days exposed to the elements in row after row of barren, tiny, urine and faeces encrusted cages. Investigations have found animals with gruesome injuries going without medical care and foxes and minks pacing in endless circles, crazy from the confinement.
Minks, foxes, chinchillas, raccoons, and other animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to tiny, filthy cages, constantly circling and pacing back and forth from stress and boredom, some animals even self-mutilating or cannibalising cagemates. The cramped and overcrowded conditions are especially distressing to solitary animals, like minks.
During the summer, hundreds of thousands of animals endure searing heat and suffer from dizziness and vomiting before dying of heat exhaustion. Baby animals are the most common victims, as they succumb faster to dehydration. In the winter, caged animals have nowhere to seek refuge from freezing temperatures, rain, sleet, and snow. Farmers often kill animals by anal or genital electrocution, which causes them to experience the intense pain of a heart attack while fully conscious. Other killing methods include neck-breaking and suffocation. Sometimes animals are only stunned and are then skinned alive.
shocking cruelty on a California chinchilla farm
The case that resulted in cruelty charges against a California furrier who was caught electrocuting chinchillas by clipping wires to the animals’ genitals.
Genital Electrocution: A Real-Life Shock-Horror Story
Row after row of tiny wire-mesh cages, stacked four high and about 25 in a row, chinchillas peering watchfully through the wires, a rack of pelts hanging on a far wall. That’s the scene that two PETA investigators found at a fur “factory” farm secluded in a quiet, snow-covered town in Michigan. PETA’s Research & Investigations Department sent two undercover teams into fur “farms” in five states. Our investigators witnessed not only how animals live, but also how they die in the seedy world of fur farming. One method they documented had never been made public before: genital electrocution.
little animals, big suffering
During genital electrocution, the killer attaches an alligator clamp to the animal’s ear and another to her labia and flips a switch, or plugs the wire into the wall socket, sending a jolt of electricity through her skin down the length of her body. She jerks and stiffens. But, according to biologist Leslie Gerstenfeld-Press, although the electrical current stops the heart, it does not kill her: In many cases, the animal remains conscious.
The electrical current causes unbearable muscle pain, at the same time working as a paralysing agent, preventing the victim from screaming or fighting. A chinchilla farmer who uses genital electrocution told our investigators that he leave the clips on “for one or two minutes” to make sure the heart doesn’t start up again but that sometimes animals revive and those who do remember the pain. In front of our investigators, one rancher unplugged the animal, listened to the heart and said, “Nope, still beating,” and plugged the cables back in for another 30 seconds.
As one farmer observed, “Sometimes you’ll get one that’ll argue with you.” The chinchillas, like all animals, do not go willingly; although they make no noise as they wait, held upside down as the rancher attaches the clips, their whiskers and mouths tremble constantly until the electrical charge freezes all movement. For the benefit of our investigators, the farmer laid the animal’s body on a table, although normally, he said, he would just hang the animal by the tail from a clip. For small animals, neck “snapping” or “popping” is easy and cheap.
The owner of one farm that PETA visited wraps the fingers of one hand around the neck of the chinchilla, grasps the lower body with the other hand and jerks the animal’s vertebra out of the socket, breaking the neck. Neck-snapping takes just a second, but for “about five minutes” afterward, according to one rancher, the animal jerks and twitches. It might take two minutes for an animal to become brain-dead from cervical dislocation; in the meantime she or he kicks and struggles.
For three months, a PETA undercover investigator documented the lives and deaths of more than 1,500 animals on a North American fur farm.
The wire cages are tiny, filthy, and encrusted with dirt, clumps of fur, and excrement. Locked inside each one is a fox, imprisoned here since birth. Many of the foxes live for years in these hideous conditions before the farmer kills them and sells their fur to make coats, cuffs, collars, and trim.
The farmer told our investigator that a humane death by an injection of barbiturate was “too expensive”. So he uses a metal noose pole to lift each fox from the cage by the neck, shoves an electric prod into the animal’s rectum and forces a metal conductor into the animal’s mouth. A flip of a switch shoots 240 volts of electricity through the fox’s body. According to our investigator, “The fox’s eyes usually shut and the body goes rigid. There is a crackling sound and sometimes teeth break and fall out. Often the anal probe falls out. When this happens, the fox convulses, shakes, and often cries.” Death doesn’t come quickly. Because the electricity does not go through and stun the brain, the foxes remain awake and feel the full excruciating force of a massive heart attack. Tom Amlung, a veterinarian and administrator for St. Clair County, Ill., animal control, says, “The animals do not lose consciousness for one to two minutes. The time seems like an eternity, so one can only imagine how the animal must feel experiencing this pain during this time with the electricity running from one end of his body to the other while heat builds up at the site of the electrode.”
the lab link
The foxes were fed cast-off chickens sent by a pharmaceutical company. The chickens, who have already suffered at the hands of experimenters, arrive by the thousands, their little hunched-over bodies shoved into sealed cardboard boxes without food, water, or space to move. Our investigator documented the farmer stacking the boxes upside down in a corner of his barn and covering them with a plastic tarp to slowly suffocate the chickens. For hours, the chickens could be heard trying to escape. When the farmer cut open the boxes and pulled them out, some were still alive. “The farmer forced the live chickens feet first into the grinder,” recorded our investigator, “while they were conscious, fighting, squawking, and flapping for their lives. You could hear their screams over the roar of the engine. short.”
what can I do?
- Use the Animals Australia fur-free shopping guide and support the retailers that say no to fur.
- Boycott designers/shops who are using/selling fur products and tell them to stop supporting cruelty.
- Use the information provided in this article to counter claims that the fur industry has cleaned up its act and that animals raised in captivity don’t know any better.
- Write to newspapers describing why you think fur (and fur trim) is disgusting.
- Remember – animal industries are designed to maximise profits – always at the expense of the animal’s welfare and comfort, and always at the expense of their lives.
A disturbing undercover expose of rabbit fur farms on two different continents shows that rabbit slaughter is always cruel. The video, narrated by actor Gillian Anderson, shows rabbits kicking and screaming during slaughter. After the skin is ripped from the rabbits’ bodies, it is sold to designers such as Giorgio Armani – who uses rabbit fur in his new designs.
The undercover investigations of rabbit fur farms in China and France revealed pitiful living conditions for rabbits, who are confined to tiny wire cages before they are slaughtered. In the video footage workers at the Chinese farm pull rabbits out of cages by their ears and shock the screaming animals on the head with a handheld electrical device, often multiple times. Rabbits with slit throats can be seen twitching and shaking, with their eyes wide open, before they die.
Milan winter fashion week
Saga Furs, the Danish trade federation that has been behind the major fur comeback in the past decade, provides samples of fur to designers to experiment with, hoping it will boost fur sales. Designer Robert Cavalli had reason to be grateful to them, and vice versa. Bits of fur peppered his entire collection: scraps of black mink dangled at the end of thin silk scarves; a satchel bag worn across the chest was lined on the inside with fur that peeked out around the edges; and the designer threw a voluminous fur vest over a full-length leopard-print gypsy dress.
Fur has been used in nearly every major show in Milan, and at some houses like Gucci and Cavalli, in nearly every outfit. At Fendi, the Roman house with a strong fur tradition, it appeared in strips, tufts and patches, and as half a jacket completed by wool.
New York 2010
There were fur coats on the runways of Peter Som, Prabal Gurung, Vena Cava and Adam by Adam Lippes. Alexander Wang designed a leather trenchcoat with a strip of mink running entirely down the back.
Four prominent Australian fashion designers featured real fur in their 2010 winter collections: Camilla Franks, Alannah Hill, Lisa Ho and Rachel Gilbert. Franks used raccoon and fox pelts, while the others preferred rabbit. Australian Vogue editor, Kirstie Clements, predicts increasing use of fur in Australian collections in the future, as the trend filters down from the international stage.
Fur fight on Melbourne Spring Fashion Week runway
9 September 2011 Organisers of the Melbourne spring fashion festival have ordered rabbit fur be removed from their runway following pressure from PETA protesters.
Molly Herben, a fourth year RMIT graduate student, was asked to pull her hand-made rabbit fur pieces from the collection she was due to show at Melbourne Town Hall on Saturday night.
Despite assurances from festival organisers that she was happy with the decision, an event was posted on Facebook in Herben’s name entitled ‘ruined dreams’
“I have been treated badly. If you care about someone losing a years worth of work and losing all creative authority please call (Lord Mayors Office) and complain about his part in denying a design student her right to show her work to the public she was promised she could,” the posting, under Herben’s name said.
The Facebook event was removed late yesterday afternoon.
MSFW organisers issued a statement via Twitter on Wednesday night saying, “Designers using fur have been asked not to include these garments in MSFW. We make no judgment on use of fur, leather & suede more broadly.”
The backdown follows a vocal PETA protest which interrupted the festivals gala opening night parade on Tuesday.
Fellow design student Jack Loder withdrew pieces incorporating feathers and fur from his collection.
Loder said he was happy to amend his collection to protect the other designers in his emerging designers exhibition.
“I didn’t think I was going to be hurting anyone but there are 10 other designers in my exhibition and it is fine if people want to vandalise my work but not everyone else’s so I made the decision to remove it,” Loder said
City of Melbourne spokesperson Beck Angel told the Herald Sun both emerging designers were fine about removing animal feathers and fur from their collections.
The Herald Sun was unable to contact Herben, who was closeted away yesterday reworking her designs.
The Facebook event in Herben’s name also said: “I have been working on this collection for the entire year and for it to be pulled from under my feet three days before the show is devastating and ridiculous,” she writes.
“Four pieces which were seen to be a threat to those attending the parade and to the models wearing the pieces were cut. I now have to re-make all my pieces in leather which is ridiculous as it is an animal product also.”
“If they had an issue they should have addressed it before I spent my entire year, bank balance and sanity working on them.”
Co-Program Director of Fashion in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University Karen Webster released a statement late yesterday saying: “RMIT supports the decision by Melbourne Spring Fashion Week on the exclusion of fur from shows and exhibits, following a protest this week.
An RMIT student who had used fur as a design element is currently reworking some garments in her collection to replace the fur with other materials.
The students collection will feature in the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week RMIT student runway show, as planned.”
Herben’s employer from Discountuniverse.com.au and former RMIT fashion graduate, Nadia Napreychikov says it is `outrageous’ that Molly has been subjected to this change so late in the lead up to the show.
“She is devastated. She was under the impression she could use the pelts all year and then three days before her big show they decide to pull it. We don’t know why RMIT and MSFW are doing this bowing down to PETA.” Napreychikov says.
“She has more than 70 family and friends coming to see her exhibition and now she has to change it. She has all her friends trying to her help her fix it, she is not happy.”
PETA Australia spokesperson, Ashley Fruno says it is a victory for animals.
“It is wonderful news. The school is setting a really good example, they get an A plus for ethics,” she says.