When you are a passionate fur lover and working with a fur organization, you find yourselves fighting many battles against animal rights activists. I loathe animal rights activists. But I loathe to loathe animal rights activists, because who wants to be against any organization that purports to protect animals’ rights? Don’t we all want animals to have rights that are respected?
The problem with today’s “animal rights” groups is that their arguments are extreme. They aren’t interested in improving the lives of farmed animals, investing in continued development of better trapping techniques, supporting zoos who ensure the survival of endangered species and who participate in valuable breeding programs, working with scientists to ensure that animals used for scientific research are treated the best way possible, or re-housing abandoned animals. Instead, they want to completely ban all animal farming, trapping, zoos, pets, animal testing, leather, meat, fur, and fish. There is no middle ground for them, and I find it really annoying.
Activists don’t understand that farmers, trappers, and all of us involved in the fur industry care deeply about animals and their welfare. Veterinarians and researchers around the world have studied the techniques and systems used in farming and trapping for the fur industry and can attest to the high standards that almost every single farmer and trapper achieve. Many of us love fur because we love the land and animals. We want to preserve the land and animals and we know that in wearing natural fibres and using sustainable natural resources we are contributing towards the protection of the earth, rather than wearing throw away fashion made from non-renewable synthetics. There is no doubt that living off the land with respect to sustainability is the best thing way we could live, and that includes consumption of animals.
When I argue these things with activists, they think it is black and white. Either you kill animals, or you don’t. But it is not that at all. I am vehemently against the poor treatment of animals in farms. I’ve re-evaluated all my opinions on animal use. Personally I am not comfortable with the use of animals for entertainment or sport, including rodeos, dog shows, horse “sports,” and hunting for sport where the “catch” is not used for its skin and/or food. I buy all my meat from countries whose farming standards are extremely high (this is easy because I live in Sweden and the farming standards here are ridiculously high), and I am extremely conscious about sourcing when buying animal products (for example, leather.) In fact, my buying habits, aside from fur, are probably in line with the ways most activists shop themselves, as a large majority of them are not living vegan lives.
So why isn’t there a group to support this conscientious majority? Where are the “animal rights” activists whose mandate is to care for animals and ensure their well being, without pushing an unrealistic agenda that demands the cessation of consumption of all animals and animal by-products around the world?
This is the time of year for giving, and I would love to find a reputable charity whose mandate is to improve the lives of animals, while respecting the fact that they are one of the world’s most valuable resources. The World Wildlife Fund does an excellent job at protecting wildlife while supporting sustainable use principles, but I’d like to see farmed animals getting the respect they deserve too, all around the world. I want to see a group that supports the sustainable use of animals, while protecting them from unnecessary harm. That is what animal rights should be about.