The easiest way for animal activists to further their agenda is to lie, and when it comes to the fur trade, that means portraying us as a cruel industry that mistreats animals.
We don’t like giving animal activists credit, but there’s no denying how successful they’ve been at spreading their lies. They appear so frequently in traditional media, blogs and comment sections, that members of the general public can hardly be blamed for believing that at least some of this horrible stuff must be true.
Well, it isn’t, and we are here to set the record straight about the Five Biggest Lies Animal Activists Tell About Fur.
Activist Lie #1: Animals on fur farms are skinned alive. Take a moment to consider this and you’ll realize it makes no sense. Not only is skinning an animal alive illegal and utterly immoral, it would also be dangerous for the operator, would increase the risk of damaging the pelt, and would presumably take longer than skinning an animal that was euthanized. (Is it easier to cut your dog’s nails while he is excited or when he’s been sleeping?) Farming is a business, and businesses need to be profitable – so why would anyone adopt a practice that is dangerous for their staff, damages the product, and takes much longer than doing it properly? The simple answer is that they wouldn’t, which is why animals are never skinned alive for the fur trade.
Activist Lie #2: Most furs come from China where animal welfare laws don’t exist. Therefore, most animals used in the fur trade are mistreated. The clever part of this lie is that, if true, it would render irrelevant the high standards of animal welfare on North American and European fur farms. If most fur comes from China, who cares how well farmers care for their mink in Wisconsin or Denmark?
There are two problems with this argument. First, it doesn’t matter where a farm is (it could be on the moon!), if farmed animals do not receive excellent nutrition and care, they will not produce high-quality fur. In fact, China does have animal welfare laws and is in the process of introducing Western standards to fur farming, but even without them Chinese fur farmers have a strong economic incentive to keep their animals healthy.
Second, and more to the point, while it is true that many fur garments are now cut and sewn in China where labour costs are lower, the fur pelts used to make most garments sold in the West originally came from European or North American farms. In fact, more than 90% of European and North American farmed mink and fox – and North American wild furs too – are sent to China to be transformed into apparel and accessories.
Activist Lie #3: Animals chew off their paws to escape steel-jawed leg-hold traps. This lie refers to very old trapping methods that are no longer permitted or used. Decades ago, some animals (especially muskrats) would sometimes have bones broken in old-fashioned leg-hold traps, allowing them to pull free. This does not happen with the new padded and off-set foot-hold traps. In fact, these new live-holding traps cause so little damage, they are used by biologists to catch and release (unharmed) wolves, lynx, otters and other animals for radio collaring or relocation. Meanwhile, the great majority of fur-bearers (including muskrats) caught for their fur are now taken in highly effective quick-killing traps, eliminating the possibility of a trapped animal being left alive.
Activist Lie #4: Fur farms are “not subject to federal regulation”. This is a sneaky deception by animal activists that suggests that fur farming is “unregulated” and therefore without standards to protect the well-being of the animals. What is intentionally not explained is that federal regulations generally concern only food safety issues related to livestock produced for human consumption. Fur farms, however – like all farms – are indeed regulated by municipal and state or provincial laws. Furthermore, farmers who mistreat or do not provide proper care for their animals can be prosecuted under federal (and state/provincial) animal-cruelty laws.
Activist Lie #5: They kill “baby seals” in Canada. If we had a dime for every time we’ve heard this lie, we could buy a dozen beautiful seal-skin coats! In fact, the hunting of nursing harp seal pups has been banned in Canada since 1987. For the last 30 years, harp seals can only be hunted after they have moulted their first fluffy “whitecoat” fur. By the time the hunt legally opens, the seal pups have been weaned and are on their own, preparing to migrate to their Arctic summer feeding grounds. (Their mothers have left, to breed again, before also heading north for the summer.) But these easily verifiable facts do not stop animal activists from continuing to illustrate their fund-raising campaigns with photos of fluffy “whitecoats”. Why let facts spoil a great story that has raked so many millions into their coffers from well-meaning supporters?
What you can do. The next time you hear someone spreading these 5 Biggest Lies Animal Activists Tell About Fur, set them straight! We all know that if people hear lies often enough, they start to believe them. Well it works both ways. People need to hear the truth more often to believe it … so let’s be sure that they do!