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Photo courtesy of Animals Asia

OPINION: Stop Fur Demand, Stop Animal Cruelty

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong) is against the wearing of fur or the use of fur in any form due to the horrific suffering involved. Millions of animals are abused and die each year as a result of the fur trade and its use in the fashion industry.

Many alternatives to fur (both synthetic and natural) exist that would avoid the needless suffering and death of animals. The use of fur in the fashion industry is based on pure vanity and absolutely unjustified.

Wild, fur bearing animals are hunted or trapped and killed. During hunting animals often suffer gruesome injuries from being shot or trapped before dying – suffering what may be a slow and painful death.

To avoid the negative images associated with the brutal realities of fur from wild animals (foxes’ legs crushed in steel-jawed traps, seal cubs bludgeoned to death, beavers caught in underwater traps so they drown), the industry often presents fur farming as a more ‘animal friendly’ alternative to wild caught fur.

This industrialised ‘farming’ approach to fur production works commercially for the industry through economy of scale and logistics. It is also used as a marketing and public relations tool– given that many people accept the farming of domesticated animals for food, the customer often will have an idyllic view of fur ‘farming’ that is far from the truth.

Most of the animals being ‘farmed’ are the same wild species who, now under the auspices of being ‘farmed’, are bred in large numbers and for their short and unhappy lives live in tiny cages with minimal provision for their physical needs or mental wellbeing. It is not uncommon on visits to fur farms to see psychologically damaged animals performing repetitive actions or self-mutilating in an attempt to alleviate the stress of their lives in captivity. Handling and killing these non-domesticated, captive-bred, wild animals humanely is very difficult and with the focus on profit, can lead to terrible abuse and suffering.

With such recognised animal welfare issues associated with the fur trade, it is notable that over time much of the farmed fur production has moved to countries with less oversight and regulation of the industry. Indeed animal protection legislation may be minimal or non-existent in some countries that are major players in the fur trade, such as China.

In recent years, the fur trade players have tried to present fur as an ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’ natural product, which is an exercise in cynicism. When considering ecology and sustainability one must consider the animal – its intrinsic value and its welfare, alongside other issues such as energy requirements and industrial pollution that are still associated with fur production and processing.

The sad fact is that as long there is a market for fur, animals will continue to be exploited and mistreated. People need to be educated and aware of the impact their choices make. Designers, retailers, and customers all need to take a stance against fur. If there is no demand there will be no fur trade, and no fur bearing animal will need to suffer unnecessarily.

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