Fur: The gold standard of cruelty

By Paula Moore

Anna Wintour feels our pain.

In the September issue of Vogue magazine, Wintour informs us that she and her fellow editors are taking this recession very, very seriously and have edited “the collections with value for money in mind.”

We’re then treated to a two-page article on Fendi’s new gold fur—24K-gold bars are pressurized into a mist and infused into fur coats and shawls. “You can sport part of your financial portfolio, and your financial adviser will be pleased to see you so prominently into gold and out of bad stocks,” the writer gushes. One coat in the collection costs $100,000.

If we needed any more proof that fur-loving fashionistas are out of touch with the rest of the population, this is it. By now, most of us know that there is no kind way to rip the skin off animals’ backs, and we’re not buying it—at any price.

On fur farms around the world, animals spend their entire lives in small, filth-encrusted cages, often with no protection from the driving rain or the scorching sun. Rabbits’ tender feet become raw and ulcerated from rubbing against the wire mesh of the cage bottoms, and the stench of ammonia from urine-soaked floors burns their eyes and lungs. Many rabbits on fur farms die of respiratory diseases. This is considered just one of the costs of doing business.

At the slaughterhouse, rabbits are electrically stunned and hung upside-down in metal shackles, and their throats are slit. Stunning is supposed to render the animals unconscious, but one undercover video shows rabbits thrashing and frantically pawing the air while hanging from the shackles.

Foxes on fur farms go insane from stress and boredom and throw themselves repeatedly against the crude wire that encloses them. Or they cower pitifully at the back of the cage, paralyzed with fear. When journalist Simon Parry posed as a fur trader to investigate fur farms in China, now the world’s largest supplier of fur, he saw a young mother fox protectively guarding the body of her lifeless cub, whose paws were covered with flies.

To kill foxes and other animals without damaging their fur, electrocution is recommended by fur trade associations in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Animals who are electrocuted convulse, shake and cry out in excruciating pain as they die of heart attacks.

Some animals are still alive, breathing in ragged gasps, as the fur is ripped from their bodies. An investigator working undercover on a Chinese fur farm filmed a skinned raccoon dog, tossed onto a heap of carcasses like trash, who had just enough strength left to lift her bloodied head and stare into the camera.

Anyone who still thinks that fur is fashionable should watch the undercover videos at FurIsDead.com. The footage is sad, shocking and disturbing and shows some of the worst abuses to animals that you can imagine. After watching it, most people make the compassionate choice to shun fur, including fur trim, forever.

For those who don’t, well … I hear that gold fur is “in” this season. It’s the perfect look for people who have more money than morals.

Paula Moore is a senior writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.FurIsDead.com.