Tuesday, January 17, 2012

☆ Fur: Mean and Not Green! ☆

Each year the fur industry kills over 50 million animals for fashion, not including rabbits (no reliable data on rabbits killed worldwide for fur is available). 

There are plenty of arguments, points of view, opinions, and attempts to make the Fur industry appear nicer in nature than it actually is. But I can sum up very simply Why the Fur Industry, at the end of all the arguments, truly sucks and could not appear kind in any form: Fur is Murder. 
However, I can't just leave you with just that, I want you to be informed after all. So I will share the realities behind the fur industry, why it's cruel, how it's not Green, and shed some light on some debated questions. 

Products with Fur

First, remember that Fur items are not restricted to the obvious fur coats and jackets, many other fashions use fur as well. Fur is used in a variety of other products including fur trimmed garments, hats, gloves, decorative accessories, footwear, blankets, stuffed animals and ornaments, pet toys and toys. 
Fur Trim in particular is the new rage that you should watch out for; from suit collars to glove linings, it is used as an accessory for many fashion items we often forget to think about. Fur-trimmed items are currently a half billion-dollar industry, expected to overtake the number of animals killed for full-fur garments. And since the trim doesn't place as much importance on the pelt quality or colour, the quality and care given to the animals used for their fur diminishes even further.

Many shoppers are not aware when the fur is real or fake, others forget to check if there is fur in what they're purchasing, and many more are led to believe that it's just a "byproduct." 
It is not.

Number of animals used for each fur coat:
Beavers 9-15
Bobcat 16-22
Cat 20-30
Chinchilla 30-200
Coyote 12-16
Dog 15-20
Fox 10-20
Lynx 8-12
Marten 50-60
Mink 30-70
Muskrat 25-35
Nutria 26-34
Otter 10-16
Polecat 45-55
Rabbit 30-40
Raccoon 30-40
Sable 60-70
Seal 6-10
Where Fur Comes from

Eighty-five percent of the world's fur comes from factory farms. 
Minks are the most commonly bred animal for their fur, followed by foxes--over 75 Million each year! This fur usually comes from the kittens when they are only about six months old
More than half the world's mink are bred in Scandinavia where there are more than 10,000 fur factory farms.  Two thirds of all fox bred for fur come from Finland.
Rabbits are also killed by the millions for their fur, particularly in China, Italy, and Spain, and exported around the globe. It used to be a byproduct of their meat industries, and there is still the misconception that this is still where it comes from, but the demand for thicker pellets meant it changed to an industry all of its own. 
Chinchillas, lynxes, hamsters, and many other animals are also slaughtered for their fur, as well as endangered species
US breeders are experimenting with beaver, lynx, raccoon, wolverine and coyote whilst in Eastern Europe even domestic cats are being reared for their skins.
Canada also produces plenty of fur and pelts from their annual Seal Hunt--which is a whole other issue altogether. See this article: Canada's Annual Seal Hunt (http://www.reloveplanet.com/2011/03/whats-going-on-canadas-annual-seal-hunt.html). 
Fur also often comes from cats and dogs, an estimated 2 million are killed for their fur in China each year in horrific conditions. A 1998 investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) exposed that the international fur industry (mainly China and Asian nations) slaughtered domestic cats and dogs for the manufacture of fur-fashions. 

In an industry where the fur usually isn't labeled, who's to say what animal it is you're wearing. It could be a lovely little puppy.


People will try to justify it anyway they can think of but the reality remains; the injustice for the production of animal-sourced products is cruel and vain. There is simply no way of justifying it. In every circumstance, and especially when you're dealing with large-scale fashion trends (which are most fashion trends), then animals have to suffer so that you can "look good." Talk about vain. 

Factory Farming:

Eighty-five percent of the world's fur comes from factory farms, which is more than 45 million animals worldwide, including raccoon dogs, rabbits, foxes, mink, and chinchillas. These animals are raised in cages and killed each year for their fur. The practices are the same as any big industry; bred in small cages, living short lives, and endure mistreatment followed by a painful slaughter. 
These animals do not live happy normal lives. They are not free to roam in outdoor pastures, play happily with each other, or experience any of the things that are natural to them. Instead, they will live short distressed lives, raised in small wire cages that are painful to their soft feet and where they are cramped and unable to move around. They will not be able to do any of the things that are natural to them; rabbits will never jump and dig, minks will never be able to swim in water, foxes will never roam and hunt. This causes them tremendous stress and suffering, and leads to abnormalities in development. They are forced to live in their own waste which leads to further health problems. They are also usually sprayed with pesticides (yes, the animals themselves are sprayed!) and fed nutrition-less corn-based or meat-byproduct diets which make them sick. They will suffer from numerous physical and behavioural abnormalities induced by the huge stress of their caging conditions. Hundreds of animals die each year from exposure or starvation, while others die from disease, lack of shelter, and neglect. 
And at the end of their short miserable lives, animals raised on fur farms are killed by inhumane and cruel methods that preserve the pelt, such as gassing (using vehicle exhaust), neck-breaking, lethal injection, and electrocution (using electrodes clamped in the mouth and inserted in the rectum). Minx are commonly poisoned which leave their bodies in spasms for up to ten minutes until they finally die. On Rabbit farms, the animals are hung upside down on a conveyer belt  before slitting their throats and skinning them alive. Many more are skinned alive, particularly in China, where they will be skinned and then their bodies dumped in a pile left to slowly die. 

Most of the animals have their ears hole-punched and males are castrated without anesthetics. Breeding these animals means artificially inseminating them for pregnancy where they are trapped in locks and have a mechanical arm shoved up their uterus. 

Fur farmers also selectively inbreed animals, particularly foxes and minks, to create a specific coloured fur. As with most inbreeding, this causes genetic mutations as well as physical and psychological damage. 

On top of that, Fur factory farms follow a regular calendar; animals are mated in February, give birth in May, weaned 6-7 weeks later and each year's offspring are killed in November at the age of just 7 months.

And, remember those domestic animals used in the fur industry? Well, those cats and dogs were either raised in cold, unsanitary breeding compounds while others are strays, and some were even pets that were most likely stolen. Dogs are bludgeoned or bled to death, while cats are often strangled by wire nooses.

I want to emphasize again here that most of the fur coming from factory farmed animals is taken from animals that are only a few months old. ‘Fur' rabbits are killed at several months old by which time they have developed a thicker skin and coat. Mink and Foxes are killed when they are still kittens at only six months old. 

In the UK Fur Farming is illegal and banned on the ground of it being immoral. 


The United States, Canada, and Russia are the main nations that use Fur Trapping. 
Millions of wild animals, including bobcats, coyotes, foxes, lynx, raccoons, and wolves, suffer and die in traps each year. Countless dogs and cats, deer, birds and other animals—including threatened and endangered animals—are also injured and killed each year by the indiscriminate traps, unfortunate enough to wander into the traps before the intended prey. Such traps may include steel-jaw leghold traps, body-gripping traps, and wire neck snares, all of which are inhumane devices that inflict great pain and suffering. One of the most common used traps is the steel-jawed leg hold trap, which is so cruel it was also banned throughout Europe. Both the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association have also declared to be inhumane. 

"When the steel jaws of the leghold trap slam shut on the victim's leg (an action similar to slamming one's hand in a car door) injuries such as torn flesh and broken bones are often inflicted. Animals then often go to great lengths to escape, some even chewing or wearing through their trapped limbs."

When trappers come back to kill the unfortunate trapped animals they will usually avoid the use of guns as bullets are expensive and may ruin the pelt. Instead, the animals are usually beaten to death or simply stood or stomped on. 
The following is quoted from a document called the "Get set to trap" issued by the California Dept. of Fish and Game. 
‘Two examples of adequate tools are a heavy iron pipe about 18 to 24 inches long, or an axe handle..It is highly recommended that the animal be struck two times, once to render it unconscious and again to render it either dead or comatose. To ensure death, pin the head with one foot and stand on the chest for several minutes.'
"Humane Trapping"
Although the Trapping industry has had numerous attempts to conceal the cruelty, with extravagant claims of "humane" treatment, the reality remains and is too obvious to dismiss. 
The Fur Industry created the "Agreement of International Humane Trapping Standards" which is an incredibly misleading name. This was created for Fur Trappers by Fur Trappers and is really just a "seal of approval" for the use of cruel traps. 
To create such standards and discover "humane" methods of trapping millions of dollars of research went into this misleading agreement, and subjected animals to cruel Animal Testing. Researchers lured wild animals into traps to study how the animals suffered and died. Points would be given if the animal didn't fracture their leg, break their teeth, tore their tendons, ligaments or broke their spinal cord. The studies would also look into internal damage as well as how long it took for the animals to die or become "irreversibly unconscious." 
Well that right there certainly sounds humane. 
And all that just to have the same traps (such as the cruel leghold trap) with a few minor changes that still cause immense pain and suffering. Seal of approval granted.  
For a more in-depth read on the "Humane" standards I encourage that you read this article: http://furbearerdefenders.com/downloads/PDFs/Humane_Trap_Myth.pdf

["humane" trap]
Fur and the Environment

"It takes more than 60 times as much energy to produce a fur coat from ranch-raised animals than it does to produce a fake fur one. Plus, the waste produced on fur farms poisons our waterways. And don't forget unlike faux fur, the "real thing" causes millions of animals to suffer every year."
There is a continued attempt to make fur appear "green," especially in some latest "Fur is Green" campaigns. If you believe these great lengths they have taken in attempts to prove their point, it is time to take another serious look for yourself. The Fur Council of Canada's "Fur is Green" website is really quite laughable, with claims that only "crazy" animal-rights groups are bashing the fur industry (and that such animal-rights advocates are even so crazy as to suggest we stop eating meat! *gasp* how horrid!).

Many fur trade advertisements have even had to been withdrawn or amended following complaints to advertising standards authorities in a number of countries.

The simply truth is this; Fur is not Green. Fur is far more damaging on the environment than faux fur. 

There was a time when leather and fur was naturally preserved and tanned, but these days mass amounts of toxic chemicals (including formaldehyde) and dyes are used to preserve that fur (and to insure that it does not rot in the buyer's closet!), meaning the fur is no longer biodegradable either. So despite the fur industries' attempt at propaganda, it is anything but green. It takes approximately 60 times the energy to produce a fake fur garment as it does to produce a fake fur garment.  
And, there is more to the environmental impacts the fur industry has on the planet. Because most Fur is, indeed, Factory Farmed, it means they are responsible for the degradation of natural waterways and land habitats. They are responsible for greenhouse gases, such as methane, released into the atmosphere, along with thousands of other toxins. The animal wastes contain high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus that are released as their waste has no place to naturally biodegrade as it would in the wild.
"an estimated 2.7 million tonnes of faeces and urine are produced annually on mink and fox farms creating pollution problems due to inadequate storage and disposal."
"the U.S. mink industry adds almost 1,000 tons of phosphorus to the environment each year."

Fur factory farms also consume vast amounts of resources. The use of feed ingredients such as marine mammals, fish and cereals, threatens wild populations (directly and indirectly) and is also an unnecessary waste of a resource--an equivalent energy content that could meet the needs of over 9 million humans. There is also the transportation of that 4 tonnes of feed, releasing even more emissions. Then there's the staggering 2.4 billion litres of water estimated to be consumed by farmed mink and fox alone (an equivalent to the annual needs of more than 3 million humans).

Lastly, there is also the significant environmental issues raised by the disposal of the 40 million mink and fox carcasses each year, be it by incineration (airborne toxins), burial (toxic breakdown products) or rendering (high energy consumption and effluent production). 

Certainly NOT Earth-friendly! And the workers are usually under-paid and subjected to hazardous conditions and health risks, largely subjecting immigrants and workers who have no where else to turn. 

Already Dead 'Fur' Animals:
One more point I'd like to address is people's justification to still wear fur when it is from an already deceased animal. Well, okay, it may already be dead so I can see your point. However, if you truly love and respect animals then you will see why this is still wrong. Would you wear your pet's fur at home if it died? Probably not. 
Animals are living, emotional creatures with complex and deep personalities, just like your pet, and just like you or me. To wear their fur, even if they are already dead from natural causes, just seems wrong. It is disrespectful at the very bottom line. You wouldn't dig up a human body to use some part of their body for a fashion statement. It is disrespectful and immoral. Let their bodies return to the earth in the natural sacred cycle of life like they should. 

Choose to be Cruelty-Free! Go Fur Free! 

"To ensure the survival of species, most animals produce more young than Nature can support to maturity. These young animals will die of hunger and disease or will be killed by other animals. We can use part of this surplus without reducing wildlife populations." ~Fur Council of Canada. 
Basically the fur industry believes it has a right to play "God," as humans tend to do, yet again at the expense of suffering animals. Really the attempts to justify the killing of innocent animals for the sake of fashion, and their attempts at making it sound "green," are a long-stretch. They do try to sound pretty convincing and I can see how people could fall for it to justify their own selfish wish to wear fur. But, really, what the arguments for fur production have to say is vague and highly debatable at best. And, at the end of it all, there is still the point I started this article off with: Fur is Murder. Not only that, but Fur is Murder for the sake of vain fashion. And not only that, but fur comes from baby animals who never get to live out happy, free, natural lives. What better point do you really need? 
The bottom line becomes this; is it worth the suffering and cruelty to animals just for some vain fashion statement? Would you wear your pet for the sake of fashion? 

There are so many other fashion alternatives out there that there really is no excuse in this day and age. Plus that's a whole lot of bad karmic energy to be carrying around with you. Ditch the animal cruelty and find alternatives. 


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