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Trapped, Caged, Slaughtered: The Truth Behind the Lawless Fur Industry

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Strolling along the winter streets of Moscow, women and men flaunt their full-length mink coats. Gracing fancy cafes and coffee shops in elite Beverly Hills half way around the world, patrons who are heavily bedizened with fur gloves and hats fatuously prattle about their latest fashion pursuits. Scattered sporadically throughout countless pages of fashion magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan, glamorous models and celebrities parade their fur coats, fur-hooded sweatshirts, fur-trimmed purses, and other fur products. Blatantly blazoned across ubiquitous billboards on highways, hideous slogans advocate fur as “The Fabric of Choice.” Fur garments, once worn out of necessity for protection from frigid conditions, have elevated in status as symbols of wealth and vanity. Despite the manufacture of warmer synthetic materials, many avariciously prefer animal pelts, regardless of the victims’ miserable agonies. From gruesome fur farms to barbaric traps, millions of helpless wild, domestic, and endangered animals suffer abusive conditions only to be brutally slaughtered to satisfy the greed and vanity of humans.
Defenseless victims of fur farms endure deplorable confinement until their sadistic slaughter. About 85 percent of all manufactured fur, which is equivalent to more than 36 million animals, is euphemistically “harvested” from fur farms each year. Smaller victims, such as minks, rare breeds of rabbits, and chinchillas, as well as larger mammals like foxes are inhumanely caged inside endless rows of tiny, wire-mesh “factories.” The merciless confinement of these creatures leads to abnormal behaviors, notably self-mutilation and cannibalism: “Studies have shown that as many as 85 percent of the animals confined in [fur farms] develop behavioral abnormalities” (Lesniak 14). Deprived of natural activities, such as roaming in the woods or swimming in ponds, minks and other creatures often bite their tails and pelts, and repeatedly rock and bob their heads against the cage to alleviate frustration, boredom, and suffering. Furthermore, forced, experimental inbreeding of fur-farmed animals results in deafness, crippling, hormone irregularities, and other physical deformities – all for the sake of the pelt.
Sadly, death does not serve as the quick, painless solution to surcease the daily torture of fur farmed animals; the “farmers” exploit whatever manner, economical or convenient no matter how vicious or senseless, to slaughter these animals. The most widely used methods – and two of the most gruesome – are anal electrocution and neck breaking. Bigger animals like foxes are wired with metal clamps and rods that generate high-voltage electricity, ruthlessly subjecting these helpless creatures to slow and agonizing deaths. Farmers sadistically snap and twist necks of chinchillas and other “hand-held” creatures before they butcher them. Other killing methods include gassing and poisoning with chemicals, but these are avoided by some because chemicals could be expensive and undesirably alter the original hues of animals’ pelts. The fur farm industry is often misconstrued as the civilized way to raise animals for their fur. Most people link the image of a farm with verdant pastures replete with cows and sheep serenely grazing and lolling. Yet, the delusive pastoral perception belies the petrifying reality of fur farms around the world: “The terms ‘fur farm’ and ‘fur ranch’ are euphemisms invented by the fur industry for what really is the intensive confinement system of caged-fur facilities” (Fashion to Die 1). Fur farms are egregiously reminiscent of Jewish concentration camps, where people, or in this case, non-human animals, wake up every morning, fated to endure the deadly torment and torture of their “living.”
Comparable to the ferocious fur farms, the obscure, yet equally grisly, fur industry in China brutally kills millions of domestic pets every year. Incognito investigators from In Defense of Animals explored the horror of South China’s fur industry in 2005. Captured in its documentation were sights of indiscriminate torture towards dogs and cats (China’s Dog). Tightly stuffed into barren cages, up to 8,000 animals are stacked on top of each other in trucks transporting these flagrantly immobile, dehydrated, and exhausted animals to abattoirs, where inevitable death awaits. Workers crudely toss and drop cages containing devastated dogs and cats on to the ground 10 feet below, often shattering legs of these victims. The few who survive this fetid, cross-country transport are eventually battered with a club, hanged, strangled with wire-noose, or bled to death. Unfortunately, the appalling suffering of these animals don’t end here; some are skinned alive as they gasp for air, eyes wide open, hearts still beating. Skinned pelts are then manufactured around the world to attach as unnecessary adornments on gloves, purses, or hats. An estimated two million dogs and cats suffer just to appease the insatiable hubris of humans.
Around the world, animal welfare activists and organizations are fighting against the fur industry. The Humane Society of the United States, an animal protection group, launched The Shame of Fur Campaign in 1988 to make the wearing of fur publicly unacceptable. The activists vehemently voiced their views against fur by educating and informing the public about the horrendous truth behind the fur industry; as a result, the total sale of fur garments plummeted seventy-eight percent in the early 1990s. The tenacious fur industry, however, fired back with a deceptive promotional hoax: fur trim. Unlike the misconception that fur trim is a by-product, analysts predict that the number of animals killed to adorn unnecessary ruffles on gloves or hoods will soon outnumber those killed to make full-length coats. Already, ninety percent of the foxes in fur farms are exclusively skinned for the fur-trim market (Platt). In the United States., there are no laws regulating how animals on over four hundred fur farms across the country should be raised, managed, or killed. These farms are rarely monitored, and farmers often provide and utilize the cheapest, and consequently the most brutal, living environment and killing methods. The U.S. Law for Clothing, which requires fur garments to be labeled by animal and country of origin, exempts items priced under $150. This loophole fails to address one seventh of all fur products. After the shocking undercover investigation of dog and cat industry in China, the United States banned imports of cat and dog products, but their pelts are nonetheless shipped to European countries as well as to the United States market illegally. During debates that lead to the outlaw of fur farms in the United Kingdom, British government minister Elliot Morley stated, “Animals should not be killed just for the business of stripping their skins off their backs. [This] is not consistent with the proper value and respect for animal life (Lesniak 15).
Designed for the sole purpose of maiming and tormenting helpless animals, traps savagely kill and cripple unsuspecting wild, domestic, and even endangered beings. Among the numerous traps, the most widely used, and by far the most ghastly, is the steel-jaw leg hold: “The American Fur Institute estimates that 87 percent of all fur animals caught in the United States are the victims of the steel-jaw trap” (Dolan 89). Animals caught in this trap endure excruciating pain. The serrated metal clamps snap on animals’ feet or paws, digging deeper into the flesh with every movement. The clamps eventually rip and crush tendons, ligaments, and bones of indefensible animals. In desperate attempts to “break off,” alarmed animals often chew on their limbs, but the steel-jaw trap is like a carnivorous Venus Flytrap: once shut, it will never release its victim. Devoid of hope, terrorized animals ultimately die of stress, starvation, or dehydration. Because the pain steel-jaw leg hold trap inflicts upon animals is unimaginably torturous, its use has been banned in 89 countries (Born Free). Unfortunately, the U.S. appears nowhere on the list.
In addition to over 17 million foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, beavers, minks, and other species caught in traps every year, about five million domestic pets such as dogs and cats, as well as endangered species like bald eagles, fall victims to the macabre traps. An animal protection organization, Born Free, recently chronicled the precarious life of a dog named Zephyr who, despite “surviv[ing] hurricane, homelessness, and even heartworm disease” (Born Free), died when caught in a concealed Conibear trap. Many credit the Conibear trap as the fast, pain-free alternative to steel-jaw trap. The Conibear trap snares the victim at the spinal column at the base of the neck and “instantly” chokes an animal to death. This, however, is an utter fallacy. Not only does the Conibear trap thrust immense pressure on its victim, but it also painfully prolongs an animal’s demise for up to nine agonizing minutes. The few animals that do not die in traps must ultimately face the deviant trappers themselves, who mercilessly bludgeon the helpless victims with a club, slam their bodies against trees or rocks, or stomp on their chests until they suffocate. Theses acts of horror are considered economical and convenient for they do not damage the pelts.
Innocent fur animals endure unsystematic confinement, treacherous traps, and sadistic slaughter for the sheer satisfaction of humans’ ravenous materialistic appetite. Despite the anti-fur movement’s effort to alter the view of fur coat as a symbol for opulence to shame, the fur industry nonetheless thrives due to the public’s unawareness. Ironically, the world’s misconception of the heinous fur industry parallels the ignorant view of fur garments as luxurious emblems; both are mere deceptions devised to indulge humans’ sartorial vanity. As the animal welfare advocate Doris Day remarks, “A woman gains status when she refuses to see anything killed to be put on her back. Then she is truly beautiful” (Better World). With awareness, concern, and involvement, the public can intervene in this horrendous brutality of fur animals. There are simple ways an individual can put an end to animal suffering: donate shameful fur garments to animal rights organizations, who will recycle or use them for anti-fur educational purposes; share with family and friends articles and news that reveal horrific truth about the fur industry; urge state representatives to introduce bills that prohibit cruel fur farms and trapping. Finally, the sales of needless fur garments, accessories, or trinkets must be banned. Becoming conscientious and caring consumers by boycotting all fur products will save lives of millions of animals; “when consumers stop buying, the animals will stop dying” (Fight Fur).





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miss said...
Jan. 10, 2014 at 1:27 pm
I like that the author cited the sources, but I'd like to see the bibliography. Is there one available? Thanks.    
 
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