WASHINGTON—Disturbing video footage released by Humane Society International reveals the suffering endured by thousands of foxes and raccoon dogs and their painful, prolonged deaths on fur farms in Asia. Footage shows foxes being repeatedly bludgeoned over the head, resulting in catastrophic injury but not instant death; some animals were skinned while still alive.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, said, “This investigation shows the reality for millions of animals tortured every year for a fur coat, hat or keychain. Consumers are no longer accepting this cruel reality and are instead seeking innovative materials that are better for animals and the environment. As more cities, states and countries around the globe look to ban fur sales, as California did last year, companies that continue to peddle this suffering will likely be left behind.”

See photos and video from the investigation (warning: graphic content).

Investigators for HSI filmed at 11 randomly selected fur farms in one of the top fur-producing countries in Asia. The organization has chosen not to reveal the country to protect the identity of the investigators. According to international trade data, the majority of fur apparel imported into the US comes from Asian nations, where there are few to no animal protection laws. Cities and states across the US have begun introducing fur sales bans to confront this cruelty.

The investigation was conducted on behalf of HSI/UK, which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a ban on fur sales in the United Kingdom. The UK banned fur farming in 2003 but still allows tens of millions of pounds of fur to be imported every year from farms overseas.

Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, said, “Every designer putting fur on the catwalk, every retailer putting fur on its shelves and every consumer putting fur in their wardrobe is helping to pay for this shameful misery. As long as we allow the sale of animal fur from overseas we remain absolutely complicit in this cruelty. The UK government has said that it wants Britain to be ‘a world leader in animal welfare.’ An ideal way to demonstrate that is for us to become the first country in the world to ban fur sales.”

Catalogue of cruelty HSI’s investigation shows:

  • Undomesticated species – fox and raccoon dog – kept in miserable factory farm conditions
  • Foxes beaten repeatedly over the face and head with a metal bar, causing extreme pain and injury but not instant death
  • Foxes cut and skinned while still alive and clearly moving
  • Animals beaten, killed and skinned in full view of others
  • Bare wire cages so small that animals can hardly move
  • Piles of feces left to gather on the floor; filthy and empty water bowls
  • No veterinarian present during any of the visits; investigators were told that none come at all
  • Animals exhibiting repetitive stereotypical behaviour typical of mental distress and decline.

After showing the results of the investigation to members of the fashion community, the Humane Society of the United States received the following reactions:

“I watched the shameful video and am reminded of talks that I had with my students at Parsons. There’s no greater time than now to reflect on how we treat other beings and the impact we all have on this earth. It’s clear the fur trade does not care.”

– Tim Gunn, fashion expert

“In this moment of deep reflection, where we are forced to stop and take stock of what is important in our lives, and to process who we are as individuals and also as a society, this horrifying video should be a more than adequate reminder of how we MUST to do better in the future. We are in the year 2020, where we have all the information available to us, to make informed and choices. We can no longer feign ignorance. This is our moment of reckoning where we have to decide who we are to become in the future. Will we continue on this path of indifference or will we choose a path of compassion? Now is the time to choose!”

– Alexi Lubomirski, fashion photographer

"As we continue to focus on our own wellbeing, there is no excuse to accept such gruesome practices that disregards the welfare and wellbeing of other species on this planet. With many alternatives available, each of us can make better choices to do least harm.”

– Burak Cakmak, dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design

“This investigation just reminds us of how cruel and inhumane the fur trade is and why it must end. There’s no justification for wearing fur in today’s world. There are too many alternative ways to be fabulous and fashionable without being cruel.”

– Mickey Boardman, editorial director for Paper Magazine

Facts:

  • In 2019, California became the first US state to ban fur sales, following similar bans in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, fur sales bans have been introduced in Hawaii and Rhode Island and the cities of Minneapolis and Wellesley, Massachusetts.
  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide, including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote. That’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely in the hundreds of millions.
  • On fur farms, animals spend their entire lives in tiny wire battery cages. Foxes are typically kept in cages that are just one square yard in area, thousands of times smaller than their territories would be in the wild. This would be the equivalent of forcing a person to live in an elevator.
  • Compared to other textiles, fur takes a significant toll on the environment in terms of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with farming tens of thousands of carnivorous animals, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the cocktail of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur. In the last few years alone, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.          

Take action: Tell companies to say no to fur  

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