Be fur free: a consumer guide

Despite their differences, foxes, rabbits, mink and many other essentially wild animals will all be kept in similar bare cages for the whole of their short lives

Despite their differences, foxes, rabbits, mink and many other essentially wild animals will all be kept in similar bare cages for the whole of their short lives

The fur industry is responsible for the intense suffering and death of over 100 million animals every year. Animals that die to produce non-essential luxury items include rabbits, foxes, minks, raccoons, seals, wolves, coyotes, squirrels, cats and dogs.

85 per cent of animals used to produce fur are commercially farmed. The small barren cages, with injury-causing wire floors, keep production costs low and profits high.

But every animal pays the price: a stress-filled life devoid of the most basic natural behaviours: running, playing, burrowing, or even experiencing daylight.

Most fur animals are killed for their first winter coat, aged about eight months. So high quality fur products do not indicate a lifetime of wellbeing – rather that the animal only shed its filthy, matted infant fur just before death.

Finally, farmed animals face horrifically cruel methods of slaughter, including electrocution and live skinning. These preserve the pelt, but cause unimaginable pain.

To combat this industrial-scale cruelty, WSPA supports the world’s biggest anti-fur coalition: the Fur Free Alliance. Find out what you can do below.

Let’s kill off fur!

It is estimated that more animals die to meet current demand for fur trim than for entire fur coats: less fur per item is not less cruel

It is estimated that more animals die to meet current demand for fur trim than for entire fur coats: less fur per item is not less cruel

© iStock

The 2000s have seen fur creep back into fashion. This confirms that the power to stop production lies with the consumer – the industry grows or declines with public demand.

Please consider the following information and pass it to friends and family:

  • There’s no such thing as ‘ethical’ or ‘green’ fur

The International Fur Trade Federation’s ‘Origin Assured’ label seeks to make fur farming respectable, but weak import and labelling regulations for this worldwide trade mean that in reality fur products are untraceable. Even if ‘humane fur farms’ could exist, the origin of consumer goods could not be assured.

The high-welfare fur myth was exposed in 2008 and 2009 by investigations into Norway’s fur farms, which proved that even a progressive developed nation claiming to produce ‘ethical fur’ is rearing animals in shocking conditions.

‘Green’ fur is also a marketing ploy: the animals come from commercial farms that generate industrial amounts of animal waste and offal; their fur is processed using polluting toxic chemicals. Modern fur production carries a considerable environmental cost.

  • Fur trim is as cruel as a whole coat 

The majority of animals killed for fur end up in as fur trim, a sector of the industry worth billions of dollars a year. They are often subjected to even worse mistreatment than those used for full coats – as smaller pieces of fur are needed, there is even less care to prevent disfiguring injury or disease, poor quality fur is simply discarded.

  • Wild’ fur is not cruelty free

While fur farms are intensely cruel, traps and snares – capable of crushing bone – do not offer anything approaching a quick or compassionate end for animals caught in the wild.

As well as being indiscriminate about which species they catch, some traps have been declared inhumane by veterinary associations.

Simple steps to help protect animals from the fur trade

  • Avoid all fur products: labelling can mislead! Dog and cat fur is commonly described as ‘vintage’ or ‘faux’ to attract consumers. Tips for avoiding real fur >> 

  • Be sure your favourite store is fur free: supporting stores that carry the Fur Free Fox logo sends a strong message. If your favourite store isn’t on the international list of approved retailers, ask them to join! This template letter might help you (Word, 27KB) >>

  • Vote in or enter Design Against Fur: this annual competition invites students from around the world to create artwork that exposes the cruelty of fur

  • Learn more: for more information on fur farming, fur-bearing animals and a guide on telling fake from real fur, visit the Fur Free Alliance website

  • In the US? Sign and pass on the Humane Society of the United States’ fur-free pledge: your support helps HSUS lobby against the fur industry.


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