Fur farming is the practice of breeding animals for their fur

Will the Fur Industry ever loose the ethical battle?

Today in China the cheapest killing methods available to fur farmers include neck-snapping, suffocation, burning, and genital electrocution.

The above image of the Arctic fox is devastating. These animals live in the Arctic region where they hunt, dig mounds and rear their young ones. They roam freely in wild but in captivity they have to make peace with the smallest of cages. Looking at the image you will see they are obese. The average weight of these foxes is around 6 kg, But the fur industry forces them to eat more than what is required so that they become obese and yield more fur. Some specimens have recorded weight of about 20kg, which is just way too much compared to the weight they have in the wild. Although customers and the fashion industry are well aware of the cruel procedure that has to be followed for obtaining fur, still these fur farms exist in Europe and China. Is everything being done to find alternatives to fur or completely ban the use of fur for fashion clothing? Let us dig more.

What is Fur Farming?

This type of farm practices breeding of predominantly free-roaming predators like fox, mink & raccoon dogs. About 35 million minks, 2.5-3 million foxes, 160,000 raccoon dogs, and 200,000 chinchillas are slaughtered for their fur annually in the European Union.

Why it is unethical?

For starters, killing an animal or breeding them for slaughter in itself is a bit unethical. But if you are to see the plight of these animals in the battery cages they live in, you would instantly relate to these voiceless creators.

Fur farming essentially uses battery cages, which is based on the exhaustive confinement model. Globally, fur-farms are very similar and all fur-farms have the same problems inherent in the production of fur: lack of room in the cage, lack of stimulation, a substrate to mimic their natural environment where they dig, lack of water bodies for minks who love to swim. In some farms basic veterinary or room for isolated injured animals is unavailable.

Today in China the cheapest killing methods available to fur farmers include neck-snapping, suffocation, burning, and genital electrocution. Animals are still often alive and suffering as workers hang them up to skin them by their legs or tails.

What is WelFur?

In the simplest form, It is a fur industry certification system. WelFur is a fur industry-initiated intentional certification scheme, it requires all the fur farms in Europe to follow “the best industry practices”. But the scheme is silent on the animal welfare part. REgardless the farms follow the scheme or not, animals continue to suffer as we speak. This scheme does not challenge the status quo but enables them to ethically run their businesses.

What is the current status?

Status of Fur industry in Europe

More and more countries in Europe have banned or are phasing out fur farming because of the ethical and animal welfare problems involved. But China remains the highest fur producing country and continues to expand. Moreover, the Chinese fur industry is unregulated and a crime against animals is unprecedented. 

How is the fur industry fighting back?

Fur is in Fashion and the situation for animals grim

As a growing number of luxury brands and retailers ban fur and exotic skins, in 2019 stocks of “vegan” products across the UK and the US increased by 258 percent. Besides, the fur industry is promoting fur as a safe and natural alternative by investing in certification programs and educational outreach across the industry. In any case, fur is in trend and critics question the sustainability of both the natural and faux alternatives.

 The way forward

Luxury brands and retailers disavowed fur in 2019. Among the major brands who stopped using fur were Prada, Phillip Lim, Farfetch and Macy’s joined a growing group of industry leaders that already included the Chanel, Burberry and Yoox Net-a-Porter Group in eliminating real animal fur from production and outlets. 

In a recent development, Global Brands Group based in Hong Kong — which owns Aquatalia and licenses over a dozen brands including Frye and Spyder — will no longer sell fur.

But if the demand is there for fur, brands will find a way to use it and maximize profits. It is up to us as customers to dwell within and decide if the slaughtering of these innocent animals is worth it or not?

Sources: Peta, Fur Free Alliance & Vogue Business