By Vanessa Papas
Every mink coat, animal hair trinket and bit of fur trim you buy fuels the barbaric fur trade and is behind the tremendous suffering and ultimate death of an animal. In light of the international day of action ‘Fur Free Friday’, we remember the tens of thousands of helpless, innocent animals that have lost their lives in the name of passing trends and catwalk fashion.
It’s easy to ignore the truth behind where fur comes from. After all, the truth is too much for many to stomach and turning a blind eye is a far easier option. Animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages. According to animal rights group, PETA, many animals go insane under these conditions. The anguish and frustration of life in a cage leads many animals to self-mutilate, biting at their skin, tail, and feet; frantically pace and circle endlessly; and even cannibalise their cage mates. Rows of cages are often housed in giant, dark, filthy sheds or barns where the ammonia from the animals’ accumulated urine and faeces burns their eyes and lungs, or they may simply be lined up outdoors, where animals have no protection from bone-chilling cold, driving rain, or sweltering heat. Parasites and disease run rampant on fur farms, making these animals’ already miserable lives even more unbearable.
“Animals who are trapped in the wild destined for the fur trade can suffer for days from blood loss, shock, dehydration, frostbite, gangrene, and attacks by predators,” explains PETA. “They may be caught in steel-jaw traps that slam down on their legs, often cutting to the bone; Conibear traps, which crush their necks with 90 pounds of pressure per square inch; or water-set traps, which leave beavers, muskrats, and other animals struggling for more than nine agonising minutes before drowning.
More than half the world’s fur comes from China, where millions of animals – yes dogs and cats included – are bludgeoned, hanged, bled to death, and often skinned alive for their fur. Chinese fur is often deliberately mislabelled, so if you wear any fur, there’s no way of knowing for sure whose skin you’re in.
Luckily, there is no need to look cool. Cruelty-free fabrics and faux furs are available in stores everywhere, and PETA continues to work with designers and clothing retailers to encourage them to use and sell only animal-friendly fabrics.
Today marks ‘Fur Free Friday’ (24 November – Black Friday), and to voice their support to ban fur comedian Sara Pascoe and actor Peter Egan joined ranks with a growing number of celebrities backing a campaign by Animal Defenders International (ADI) to end the cruel fur trade once and for all. Since the launch of ADI’s shocking films ‘A Lifetime’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W7vhKd_6lQ) about the brutal short lives of two foxes, brothers Borys and Eryk, and ‘Never Humane’ (https://youtu.be/CeKFm2pmmBo) exposing inhumane killing on a Polish fur farm, celebrities have lined up to speak out against wearing fur, including Ricky Gervais, Joanna Lumley, Moby, Alexandra Paul, Brian Blessed, Elaine Hendrix and legendary TV host and animal advocate Bob Barker.
ADI’s findings reveal a cruel industry hidden behind images of beauty and luxury; the desperation and suffering of sensitive, intelligent, foxes deprived of their natural lives and intensively farmed in barren, cramped, filthy conditions. The lifelong stress, deprivation and extreme confinement causes both psychological and physical damage.
Wild foxes are trapped in small bare wire cages, with babies torn from their mothers at just a few weeks old. After only seven short months, the young foxes are dragged from the cages by their tails, hung upside down and electrocuted in front of their families and other animals on the farm. Aware of what will happen to them, the animals desperately attempt to evade capture, clinging onto the mesh.
“Worldwide every year over 110 million animals are killed on fur farms, with more than 16 million trapped in the wild for their fur. Over 15 million foxes are killed in a year, usually for trinkets, trims and accessories,” says ADI President Jan Creamer. “Poland is the fourth largest producer of fox fur in the world – almost all is exported. Although the UK banned fur farming more than 15 years ago, it remains a major dealer importing and exporting fur. The UK is in fact one of the largest exporters of fur in Europe; garment exports amount to over €25 million a year, while imports of fur skins are valued in millions, including £4.5 million from Poland and £4.5 million from China last year alone. Compassionate shoppers are being tricked into buying real fur – some products being sold as “fake” have been found to be real fur. ADI advises ethical shoppers to report items that are not labelled, or mislabelled, and is providing advice on how to identify the real fur being sold as ethical fake.”
With so many alternatives to fur available, no animal need suffer. Using the real thing is cruel and unnecessary. Please join me and ADI in supporting the designers whose fabrics, but not principles, are fake.