LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — Today, four leading animal protection organizations—the Humane Society of the United States, Born Free USA, FOUR PAWS USA and Last Chance for Animals—launched a national campaign urging Dillard’s, the last major U.S. department store still selling animal fur, to adopt a fur-free policy. Dillard’s would join competitors Macy’s, Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx, Kohl’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and many other stores that have already made the compassionate commitment to end their sale of fur. The new campaign asks consumers who care about animal welfare to contact Dillard's during the lead up to the retailer’s shareholder meeting in May.
According to import data, Dillard’s was a top 30 importer of fur products into the U.S. in 2017 and 2018. Despite fur sales dwindling as more brands go fur-free and consumers turn away from the cruel product, the retailer continues to sell animal fur on its website.
Dillard’s has a long history of problems with fur. Beginning in 2007, we found Dillard’s repeatedly selling garments advertised and labeled as faux fur that were actually real animal fur—including fur originating from raccoon dogs, a member of the same animal family as the domestic dog. This led to Dillard's being named in three petitions filed before the Federal Trade Commission, a lawsuit before the D.C. Superior Court, and national television news coverage linking the company to false advertising and animal cruelty. In 2013, Dillard’s adopted a policy to no longer sell garments containing raccoon dog fur. The campaign asks the company to take its commitment further by ending the sale of all animal fur.
California, a state that has three Dillard’s locations, banned fur sales in 2019, and 13 municipalities across the U.S. have followed suit.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States said, “At a time when all the major fashion brands have turned their back on fur, Dillard’s appears out of touch with consumer values as it continues to sell cruelly produced fur items. No fur trim or accessory is worth the agony animals suffer in this horrid industry.”
The fur trade has long been associated with extreme cruelty, confining and killing millions of animals including foxes, raccoon dogs, chinchillas and mink solely for fashion. Most animals killed for the trade are kept in fur factory farms, where they spend their entire lives in small cages, unable to exhibit natural behaviors like running, swimming and digging. To keep costs low and kill them without causing damage the pelts, foxes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas are electrocuted, and mink are gassed.
Fur factory farms have also been plagued by environmental and public health concerns. Farmed mink across Europe and North America have tested positive for the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2, and research shows they are capable of spreading the virus to humans. Now, the highly pathogenetic strain of avian flu has been detected in farmed mink, leading to concerns for potential transmission to humans. Finally, new data suggests that raccoon dogs may be implicated in the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic after DNA samples were found at Wuhan Market in China. China is the world’s largest producer of raccoon dog fur.
According to a 2021 report, animal welfare is considered the most important factor to consumers when buying apparel, and in 2019, Gen Z consumers were found to place more value on animal welfare than all other sustainability issues in their purchasing decisions. Going fur-free is viewed as good business since it allows companies to align their policies with customers’ values. Nordstrom’s stock went up after it announced it was going fur-free, and when Gucci and Prada announced their fur-free policies on social media, the notices numbered among their most liked posts ever at that time.
- Emily Snow Ehrhorn