The process of obtaining fur involves brutally torturing and killing approximately 50 million animals worldwide, each year. Fur is not a by-product of the food industry, as many people believe, but rather is its own cruel industry. Despite the amount of alternative synthetic and natural fibres that are available, fur continues to be worn around the world, with little regard for the welfare of the animals who are imprisoned, tortured and killed in the name of fashion. Animals not bred specifically for their fur in factory farms are caught in the wild using excruciating, bone-crushing traps.
While there are no fur farms in Australia, fur continues to be imported and sold to satisfy consumer demand. The sale of cat and dog fur, largely produced in Asia, is banned in Australia, however, this hasn’t stopped cat and dog fur being mislabelled as rabbit or even faux fur in recent years, finding its way into clothing and children’s toys. The majority of Australia’s imports come from America and Europe, where mink and fox are the main species tortured and killed for their fur.
Like in other animal industries, animals raised for fur are kept in intensive, or factory farms situations. They live in small wire cages inside large sheds, with little chance of performing their natural behaviours and instincts. Due to the immense amount of cruelty, fur farming is banned in several countries.
Around 20% of animals killed for fur are trapped in the wild. For each target animal trapped in the wild for her fur, approximately two non-target animals are caught, often including endangered species. The traps are commonly placed in areas where multiple animals live such as along creek beds or in trees. Traps are often be baited with food, urine or sex gland scents to lure the target animals.
The most common types of trap are the steel jaw leg-hold trap, the conibear trap, and the wire snare. These traps grab onto the animal by a limb, abdomen or around the neck, and can result in mutilation, dislocated joints, broken bones or strangulation.
In America, the American Veterinary Medical Association has condemned the ‘legal’ methods of killing animals in the fur industry as inhumane and cruel. In China, which is a major producer of fur, there are restricted animal welfare laws, and because only the pelt of the animal is considered valuable, often little regard is given to the hourly suffering of these confined animals.
The methods commonly used to kill animals in the fur industry are horrific and cause extreme pain and trauma. These include:
- Anal and genital electrocution on conscious animals to induce painful heart seizures.
- Neck breaking, which is carried out while the animal is conscious, and causes suffocation.
- Poisoning with car exhaust, carried out on animals crammed into boxes.
- Chemical poisoning, carried out by feeding or injecting animals with a chemical which induces paralysis but not unconsciousness.
- Clubbing to the head, which often only causes stunning, not death.
Many of the ‘killing’ methods result in the animal remaining conscious but unable to move while they are skinned. Animals are frequently hung by their legs or tails while a worker cuts their fur from their bodies. The fur is peeled from the bodies over the animals’ heads, and the furless bodies are thrown onto a pile of other animals, many still alive and suffering unimaginable pain and trauma.