WASHINGTON—Disturbing video evidence of extreme animal suffering on multiple fur farms in China has been released by Humane Society International as part of its global campaign to end the fur trade and expose the suffering of animals on fur farms around the world. Every year in the United States, millions of animals are bred on fur factory farms or caught in cruel traps in the wild. China is the top producer of fur in the world and the number one exporter of fur apparel into the U.S.
The investigations took place at 13 fur farms between November and December last year. They reveal breaches of many of China’s fur farming regulations on animal housing, welfare, slaughter and epidemic control, with a disturbing admission from one farmer that the meat from slaughtered fur animals is being sold to local restaurants for human consumption by unsuspecting diners. On another farm, raccoon dogs were filmed being so ineptly electrocuted that experts say they will have been rendered paralyzed but still conscious while experiencing slow, agonizing deaths from cardiac arrest. Foxes in rows of cages were also filmed repetitively spinning and pacing in their tiny, barren, wire cages, the classic symptoms of mental decline from environmental deprivation.
“Animals on fur farms live in a world of constant fear and suffering, and this latest investigation is further evidence of that,” said Kitty Block, CEO and president of the Humane Society of the United States and president of Humane Society International. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone still stands by this cruelty in the name of fashion. There is nothing glamorous about electrocuting animals to death. Fur farms have no place in a modern society, and it is essential that we end the fur trade for good.”
On several fur farms, raccoon dogs were seen being electrocuted using a double-spiked lance attached to a high voltage battery. One by one the animals are seen being stabbed with the lance in random parts of the body, delivering an agonizing electric shock that paralyzes but doesn’t instantly kill them because this incorrect method doesn’t pass electricity through the brain.
“The animals in this video are being subjected to violent and chaotic electrocution in the body and not in the brain, which means they are highly likely to have experienced several minutes of extreme physical pain and suffering, like heart attack symptoms,” said Professor Alastair MacMillan, HSI’s veterinary adviser. “Instead of instant death, they are likely to have been immobilized by the electric shocks but remain conscious and feel the intense pain of electrocution.”
Despite HSI’s investigation taking place during the global pandemic, none of the fur farms followed basic biosecurity measures, with disease control regulations routinely ignored. Contrary to Chinese regulations, none of the farms had disinfecting stations at entry and exit points, and visitors were allowed to come and go without being asked to observe any COVID-19 safety precautions. In light of at least 422 outbreaks of COVID-19 on 289 mink fur farms in 11 different countries in Europe and North America, and raccoon dogs and foxes also being capable of contracting coronaviruses, the lack of adherence to safety measures is extremely concerning. HSI has provided its investigation evidence to the Chinese authorities, both in Beijing and in London.
China is home to the largest fur producing industry in the world, rearing 14 million foxes, 13.5 million raccoon dogs and 11.6 million mink in 2019. In 2020, the U.S. imported $89 million worth of fur apparel, including $16 million from China – a significant drop from 2019 when the U.S. imported $145 million of fur apparel, including $33 million from China.
Despite the horrific cruelty found at these particular farms, ample evidence demonstrates that animal suffering is an inherent consequence of the global fur industry regardless of the country.
“Sadly, fur farms in the United States are just as unregulated as the ones found in this investigation with many of the same standards like barren cages and death by electrocution,” said PJ Smith, fashion policy director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The fur industry has done everything possible to shield public eyes from the harsh realities behind a fur-trimmed coat, and in the age of transparency, it’s no wonder the industry is on steady decline. Now is the time to end the trade for good.”
Humane Society International is calling on governments around the world to ban fur farming and end the fur trade. A 2020 Research Co. poll shows that 71% of Americans oppose killing animals for fur.