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February 20, 2013

The Humane Society of the United States and Jana Kohl Urge Kohl’s to Go Fur-Free

The Humane Society of the United States and Dr. Jana Kohl, granddaughter of the founder of Kohl’s, are urging Kohl’s Corporation to go fur-free in its department stores. The HSUS submitted a shareholder resolution asking Kohl’s to create a policy clearly stating the company’s future plans for banning animal fur sales. Such a policy would help protect Kohl’s customers from misleading fur labels and advertisements, and move the company away from the inhumane treatment of animals killed for their fur.

“In the last two years, Kohl’s has made a number of vague and confusing statements to customers and shareholders pertaining to its sales of animal fur," said P.J. Smith, corporate outreach manager of the fur-free campaign for The HSUS. "The Humane Society of the United States is asking Kohl’s to be consistent with its statements about animal fur and move away from an unnecessary and inhumane product, especially because so many faux fur alternatives are available.”

Among the confusing statements Kohl’s has sent to customers and shareholders about its fur sales since 2011:

  • "We do not intend on discontinuing our minimal use of fur”           
  • “We typically do not carry merchandise made of animal fur”
  • “We carry a minimal amount of merchandise using fur; however, occasional seasonal items use fur accents”
  • “All merchandise and related packaging must be free of any real animal fur unless expressly requested and authorized in writing by Kohl’s”

Ironically, Kohl’s “Kohl’s Cares” scholarship competition rewarded a boy who contributed to his community by organizing petitions and handcrafting bracelets and key chains to raise awareness about the cruel fur trade. The contradiction between this action and recent statements is misleading to Kohl’s customers, leaving the potential for selling animal fur in the future. By not committing to a fur-free policy, Kohl’s customers are at continued risk of being deceived.

Kohl said, “It brings me great sadness that my family name is now associated with the fur business, an industry marked by such barbaric cruelty against animals that it's nothing short of legalized torture. I call on Kohl's to be a corporate leader, showing concern for the environment, social responsibility and humane practices. I urge them to set an example for other corporations to begin to repair our world before it's too late."

Many retailers and designers have agreed to phase out the sale of animal fur products because of the inhumane treatment of animals, and false labeling and advertising that have consistently plagued the retail industry. Lack of transparency and quality control in the fur industry puts Kohl’s and its customers at continued risk of being duped and associated with animal cruelty.

For a copy of The HSUS' shareholder resolution, click here.

Facts:

  • More than 300 retailers, designers and brands, including JCPenney, Forever 21, Liz Claiborne, Urban Outfitters, Gap, J. Crew, Overstock.com, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein have committed to being fur-free and are included on The HSUS' fur-free list.
  • The HSUS has consistently found falsely-advertised and falsely-labeled animal fur garments that mislead customers. In recent years, misrepresentation of fur products has led to dozens of companies being named in petitions filed before the Federal Trade Commission, a lawsuit before the D.C. Superior Court and multiple media stories about sales representatives misrepresenting animal fur to reporters posing as customers.
  • Millions of animals, including foxes, rabbits, raccoon dogs, domestic dogs and cats, mink and coyotes, are killed every year by the fur trade.
  • Environmental concerns associated with animal fur include threatened and endangered species caught or killed in traps, feces and urine from massive cage operations entering and contaminating waterways, and tanning processes that involve carcinogenic chemicals.
  • Animals on fur factory farms spend their entire lives crammed in wire cages, often exhibiting neurotic behaviors like constant spinning and pacing. Foxes can never touch soil, much less dig, and semi-aquatic mink have no access to swimming water.
  • Several countries, including the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, have passed legislation to phase out fur farming because of inhumane practices. Killing methods on fur factory farms include anal and genital electrocution, neck breaking, gassing and poisoning, and the practice of live skinning has been documented in China.
  • In the wild, some terrified and injured animals caught in steel-jaw leghold traps try to escape by chewing off their own limbs. In some states, trappers are not required to check traps for several days, leaving animals to suffer in agony. When trappers do return, they often kill the animals by beating, stomping or shooting them in the head. Many countries and several U.S. states have banned or severely restricted the steel-jaw leghold trap.


To learn more about the fur-free campaign and how to get involved, visit humanesociety.org/furfree.

Media Contact – Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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