For two decades on the day after Thanksgiving – the busiest shopping day of the year – thousands of activists around the nation have held demonstrations, marches, vigils and other activities for Fur Free Friday to protest a global multi-billion dollar industry that kills over 40 million animals a year. Regarding their welfare, executive director of the Fur Information Council, Keith Kaplan, can only say that "[our] industry is committed to the humane treatment of animals" because the industry's definition of "humane" differs radically from its actual meaning.
The majority of fur-bearing animals are raised on fur mills in wire cages stacked in long rows raised several feet above the ground. Large mills hold up to 100,000 "livestock." More than half the world’s fur is imported from China, where animal welfare laws don't exist and dogs and cats are also killed for fur. Animals like mink, chinchilla, raccoon, lynx and foxes are wild and need to live outdoors. In their natural habitat, minks, the most commonly raised animals in mills, have a two-mile range and spend much of their time swimming. Trapped in cages, they are denied their most basic natural behaviors. After a lifetime of confinement, fur-bearing animals are killed painfully. So as not to damage the animals' valuable pelts, farmers commonly break their necks or insert an electrified rod in their anus or vagina, literally frying them from the inside out.
Some killing methods are even more perverse. In Central Asia, "Persian wool" is made from lambs who are sliced from their mothers' wombs up to 15 days before birth to make coats when their curls are most tight and smooth. Another example of extreme cruelty is the dog and cat fur trade, which kills over 2 million animals annually. Recent investigations into the Chinese fur industry document cats and dogs being skinned alive, their eyes still blinking and heartbeats visible beneath exposed ribcages. Consumers have no way of knowing whether they are buying dog or cat fur because these products – jacket collars, gloves, hats and toys – are almost always deliberately unlabeled or mislabeled.
In America, millions of coyote, raccoon, bobcats and other species are caught in the wild using spring traps with metal teeth that smash bone and crush muscle. Animals can linger in excruciating pain for days without food or water before a trapper kills them. About one quarter of trapped animals escape by chewing their own limbs off (only to be killed by predators). Many "trash" animals also die in traps, including companion dogs and cats and non-target wildlife (some that are endangered).
The fur trade kills animals not out of necessity (for example to keep people warm: synthetic materials are warmer and much cheaper), but for money and fashion – to make $10,000 mink coats, fur collars and frivolous fashion accessories. Often, those who buy fur don't know about the cruelty behind its production, so this Fur Free Friday, please help convince people that cruelty is never in fashion. For more information and to get involved, please visit FurKills.