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THE FUR INDUSTRY: morally indefensible

I believe that no person with integrity could support the fur industry in any way. However, numerous people are unaware of the horrific facts of the fur trade. My intention, therefore, is to present the facts of the fur trade so that people can make an informed moral choice about fur items.

Individuals with integrity consistently have strong moral principles. They are honest and their values concord with their words and actions, even in the face of conflict. To make moral choices, people need to be able to connect to all their emotions, pleasant and unpleasant. This is not easy and to avoid uncomfortable feelings people use various psychological defences to deny, avoid or minimise the reality of a bad situation.

Regarding animals, certain people deny that animals are sentient and therefore can suffer. These people might even argue that animals are put on earth solely for the benefit of humans. They may have pets and adequately care for them, yet animals are regarded as property to be disposed of at will. Viewed only as property, animals are used as a means to an end, usually for monetary gain.

Manufacturers of fur products try to objectify fur-bearing mammals so that people can avoid thinking of “fur” as sourced from living, sentient beings. Words such as harvesting instead of killing give the impression that animals are a natural resource, akin to harvesting a crop of vegetables.

In this advanced age of synthetic fabrics, real fur items are unnecessary. Hence, people who buy these items find ways to avoid empathising with the suffering of animals. They evade the truth, which enables them to disconnect from the living creatures. For example, they claim to wear mink fur and not the fur from a skinned mink, the latter statement evoking a more gruesome image. They will justify their choices by saying animals are humanely farmed and killed or that fur is “green”. This can be seen as a lack of integrity, as self-interest overrides compassion towards other species.

There is proof, however, that the fur industry is morally indefensible. It destroys animals and the environment for products that nobody needs in the 21st century. To maximise profits, the fur industry conceals or minimises these facts, which are presented as follows.

The fur industry is different to the meat industry, as every year millions of wild animals are battery-farmed or trapped solely for their fur. A single garment, depending on the fur, can be made from hundreds of animal skins. Fur products include luxury fashion garments, accessories, pet toys, key rings and various trinkets. Animals are killed specifically to make trim for hats, gloves, jackets, blankets, scarves and shoes. Without exception, fur items entail the extreme suffering of animals.

Around 85 % of the world’s fur comes from fur farms, where everything is aimed at being cost-effective. There is no regard for the animals’ well-being, as they are viewed as mere commodities. Fur animals spend their entire lives crammed into tiny, dirty metal cages where there is barely room to move let alone space for activity. Rusty wire from the cages can injure or cut the feet of these creatures. Eyes are often poked out. Cages are lined up in freezing conditions to ensure that animals grow thicker fur i.e. produce more fur. If their drinking water freezes, animals can die of thirst.

In these unnatural conditions wild animals go insane, displaying behaviour not observed in the wild. Abnormal behaviour such as cannibalism and self-mutilation occurs, as in frustration animals chew off their own tails and legs. Under these stressful conditions they attack and wound each other. Many animals die painfully from their injuries, go into organ failure from stress or suffocate. Despite this senseless loss of life, it is still more cost-effective to keep these animals in these vile conditions.

These victims lie anguished and depressed inside cages, waiting for an agonising death. To cut costs and to preserve pelts killing methods are merciless. Animals are routinely gassed, anally or vaginally electrocuted, poisoned, bludgeoned or have their necks broken and sometimes are even skinned alive. When electrocution is used, the farmer puts a metal clamp in an animal’s mouth, a metal rod in the anus, and sends a high-voltage current surging through the body. This causes the animal to have a cardiac arrest while still conscious. Sometimes the power surge forces the rod out of the anus, so the procedure must be repeated. If a lethal injection of various chemicals is used, it kills through paralysis, which can result in immobilised animals being skinned alive.

Environmental pollution from fur farms is huge. With tens of thousands of living beings kept in a small area excrement can seep into the ground water.  Ammonia from accumulated faeces not only burns the eyes and lungs of animals but also pollutes the air. As only the pelt is used, bodies are dumped and left to rot. Toxic chemicals are used to stop fur bio-degrading. Fur garments are also dyed to give them a “modern” look. These toxins are harmful to the environment and to people.

About 15% of the world’s fur comes from trapped wild animals. Trapped animals cannot escape and often spend days bleeding to death. At times they gnaw off their own limbs in an effort to free themselves. Traps are indiscriminate and animals caught in error are casually discarded.

In countries with inadequate animal protection laws, such as China, millions of dogs and cats are bludgeoned, hanged and bled to death. This is cheaper than to produce synthetic fur. Because it is easier to strip fur from a warm body, animals are often skinned alive.  Footage has shown that animals sometimes are fully conscious while being skinned. Even after their skin had been stripped off, breathing and eyelid movement was evident for up to five to ten minutes.

To bypass laws banning the sale of dog and cat, this fur from China can be mislabeled as faux/ synthetic fur. Real fur is often dyed and sheared. Weak import and labeling laws make it difficult to identify from where fur originates. Consequently, furriers and retailers selling fur goods do not know the exact source of the fur. This aside, no living being should be skinned for their fur.

One way of ending the torture of animals in the fur industry is not to sell or buy products containing fur of any type. Even better, a person with integrity will reinforce their actions and speak up against the fur trade, which is one of the most senseless and barbaric industries on earth.

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