Over 100 million animals – including mink, rabbits, raccoon dogs, foxes and chinchillas—are still confined and brutally killed for their fur ever year, even though warm and stylish alternatives indistinguishable from animal fur are widely available. Photo by Kristo Muurimaa/Oikeutta Elaimille
Our fight against fur has gained incredible momentum in recent years, with major fashion houses and retailers shedding the cruelty of this completely unnecessary commodity. Now, with mink on two fur farms in the Netherlands testing positive for the coronavirus, we have one more compelling reason why this brutal trade needs to end for good.
The pandemic has been a grim reminder of the problems that can arise when we cruelly confine and mistreat animals. From the wildlife market in China where the coronavirus originated to slaughterhouses in the United States where it is spreading rapidly, there is no doubt that keeping animals packed together in cages with little or no regard for their health and well-being creates the perfect recipe for disaster.
According to the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, disease risk is higher in operations like fur farms where animals are crowded into close contact with each other’s respiratory secretions and excrement. For example, foxes and raccoon dogs kept in close confinement have been found to be infected with viral diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
A Humane Society International investigation of a fur farm in Finland, the world’s second largest fox fur producer after China, showed hundreds of foxes and mink crammed in small, barren and filthy battery cages. Many of the animals had eye infections and gaping wounds, including a mink with a large, bloody hole in the head. Some animals lay dead in the cages and others ate them or walked over them.
At the end of their short, miserable lives, foxes on fur farms are anally electrocuted and the mink gassed to death. On Chinese fur farms, foxes and raccoon dogs are beaten to death and some are even skinned while still alive.
Although the demand for fur has dropped in recent years, the scale of this trade globally is still mind-boggling. For instance, fur makes up 75% of the wildlife trade in China, which is the world’s largest fur producer, as P.J. Smith, our campaign director for fashion policy, wrote in an oped this week. Over 100 million animals – including mink, rabbits, raccoon dogs, foxes and chinchillas—are still confined and brutally killed for their fur ever year, even though warm and stylish alternatives indistinguishable from animal fur are widely available.
In recent years, we have worked with some of the largest fashion houses, including Gucci, Prada, Armani, Michael Kors and Coach, and retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Farfetch and YOOX Net-a-Porter, to end sales of fur. California last year became the first U.S. state to ban fur, and we are working to pass similar bans in more states, including Rhode Island and Hawaii.
HSI has kept up the momentum against fur globally and in the United Kingdom, we spearheaded the campaign to make Britain the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. More than a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway, have since banned fur production. Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout.
This is amazing progress, but the pandemic has created a greater urgency than ever to end this cruelty. In recent weeks, infectious disease experts and the World Health Organization have called on nations to end their wildlife trade to avoid another pandemic; we need to extend that call to fur farms across the globe, including those right here on U.S. soil. The fur industry is heading toward certain demise, and now, with the increased disease risk it poses, there is no reason to keep it alive for a day longer.
Published at Fri, 08 May 2020 19:56:27 +0000
The AKC list, released this week, has become a matter of concern for animal protection organizations because it serves as a reference point and incentive for puppy mills to churn out countless numbers of the top-ranking dogs each year for sale. Photo by Somerset County Animal Control
Last year, we assisted with the care and placement of dozens of dogs rescued from the property of a German Shepherd breeder in Maryland. The breeder was cashing in on the popularity of a breed celebrated by the American Kennel Club, which has consistently placed German Shepherds at the top of its list of most popular breeds for many years now. The dogs were being kept in filthy conditions, as far as can be from the glamour of a show ring—two puppies were found in a dirty bathroom with what appeared to be fecal matter and urine on the ground, and many of the adults were filthy, fearful and thin.
This year, once again, German Shepherds, like Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, English and French bulldogs and poodles, rank high on the AKC’s list of top 10 most popular breeds. The list, released this week, has become a matter of concern for animal protection organizations because it serves as a reference point and incentive for puppy mills to churn out countless numbers of the top-ranking dogs each year for sale.
To add insult to injury, AKC lends misleading credentials to many indiscriminate breeders who produce these purebred dogs, without regard for the problems caused by indiscriminate breeding, inbreeding and the lack of socialization for the animals. On top of that, the AKC vigorously opposes any attempts made by lawmakers and organizations like ours to improve the treatment of animals in puppy mills.
AKC dog breeders have often appeared in our annual Horrible Hundred reports; some have been charged with animal cruelty for keeping their dogs in dreadful conditions. In March, I told you about a dog rescued from an AKC breeder in Caldwell County, North Carolina, who was all skin and bones, riddled with parasites and lethargic. She was also pregnant with seven puppies, four of whom died at birth; the remaining three required hospitalization and round-the-clock care to survive.
One of the most heartbreaking stories is that of Wild Bill. Once an AKC champion dog, this Australian Cattle Dog competed in AKC events, winning ribbons for his good looks. Tragically, after his glory days in the show ring were over, Wild Bill was discovered by local law enforcement officials at a Mississippi puppy mill, where he was starving in a filthy, rusted crate with inches of feces-infested water around him. But if that wasn’t bad enough, an AKC inspector who saw it all gave the kennel a clean inspection report.
Although it registers only pure breeds, the AKC doesn’t hesitate to profit from “designer” mixed breeds like “labradoodles” and “goldendoodles” either. These dogs are in demand because of beliefs that every lab or golden retriever is friendly with children and that poodles are hypoallergenic. The hype is misleading, because mixing any breed with a poodle does not automatically make the offspring non-shedding or allergen-free, yet pet stores don’t hesitate to cash in on the misconception. These dogs also frequently suffer from genetic problems, as do other popular AKC breeds like bulldogs, which can lead to big medical bills and heartbreak for those who buy them.
AKC partners with Petland, the nation’s largest chain of puppy-selling pet stores, offering to enroll mixed breed dogs the store sells in its “Canine Partners program.” The program includes an “official certificate from the American Kennel Club honoring your dog,” and the eligibility to participate in agility and other performance events, all for a fee. Petland, which notoriously sources puppy mill dogs, has been a subject of eight HSUS investigations for its terrible mistreatment of the animals in its care. Many Petland stores boast “AKC Inspected” signs.
The AKC also regularly uses its platform to bash animal rescues – the same groups that help mixed breed dogs who are homeless and in need. Right now, it is also opposing a common-sense law in Massachusetts that would protect dogs from being left outside in harsh weather. And it regularly fights local and state laws that protect dogs in puppy mills, including laws that prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores.
One of the things we have learned during this crisis is just how many Americans are eager to adopt and foster dogs from animal shelters. Shelters do amazing work, and they should always be the first stop for anyone looking to bring a pet home but if families are unable to find a rescue dog, seeking out a responsible dog breeder is key to ending the puppy mill trade. Dogs are truly our best friends, and their companionship–especially in these stressful times–is invaluable. They deserve to be celebrated, and as long as the AKC contributes to their suffering, we will continue to fight the group with all of our might.
Published at Thu, 07 May 2020 13:12:14 +0000