With technologically enhanced pop stars and washed-up celebrities now openly sporting furs, the slaughter of animals for fashion is once again on the rise.
By Paul Glendenning
Published January 27, 2006
With only a handful of Fur stores in Hamilton, one would think this issue is of little local importance. Unfortunately, the fur industry has once again infiltrated mainstream fashion.
Though few full–length furs are found shuffling along city streets, fur-trimmed items, such as scarves, gloves and jackets, are everywhere. With technologically enhanced pop stars and washed-up celebrities now openly sporting furs, the slaughter of animals for fashion is once again on the rise.
Over two million animals die in Canada every year to become outerwear for the uncaring masses. Primarily, the fur used is to trim coats and accessories, denying even the defence of superior warmth. Trim is not a byproduct, but “the product” of the modern fur industry.
Media marketing appears to have been very successful at turning of the public's conscience in order to make wearing animal hides acceptable again. In a recent article in the Hamilton Spectator, one local citizen who was buying a fur trimmed leather coat was quoted as saying, “I feel I respect their outlook on things (animal activists) so I don't feel they should tell me what to do. I've paid my dues. Really.”
The political “culture of entitlement” appears to have found a strong foothold among everyday Canadians. It is unclear what dues can be paid that one is entitled to have animals slaughtered for fashion.
Cost is no longer a barrier to fur, as trim can be quite inexpensive and some may not even realize they are wearing the real thing. If the label does not expressly say it is fake trim, there is a good chance it is real. This is because of labeling laws, and the fur industry's subversion of them by keeping the quantity under the approved standards. This does little to change the fate of the animal whose life was taken.
Fur-bearing animals have two ways to become fashion victims: being trapped in the wild or being bred for their fur on a farm.
Due to the increase in demand, 30 new fur farms opened in Canada during 2003/2004. The animals on these farms, primarily mink and fox, suffer a short, brutal life locked in a small cage; their suffering finally ending through poison, electrocution or a broken neck.
Wild furbearers fare little better once caught. Trapping involves the use of one of three types of snares/traps to catch unwary animals who then asphyxiate, drown, or suffer in torment until the trapper ends their pain with a club.
For every animal caught and used for fur, as many as four others are caught, killed and discarded as unsuitable. Among these “trash animals” are many dogs and cats who accidentally stumble upon the traps and are maimed or killed.
Recently, a pit bull cross, rescued from the Bahamas and the Katrina Hurricane, came to a devastating end. While walking with his rescuer Gail Murphy on a trail in Long Island, “Zephyr” strayed from the path and was caught face first in a spring-loaded trap.
“I couldn't get the trap off his head. Within two minutes, he was dead," Said Murphy. "I took him to an area I felt was safe for my whole 40 years. I saw his eyes looking at me like I was his protector, and I couldn't do anything."
Additional hazards of fur fashion include the environmental costs that are byproducts of the Fur Industry. Toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and chromium, are used in the tanning process to stabilize the collagen or protein fibers in animal skins so they don't biodegrade.
In 1991, the US Environmental Protection Agency fined two fur processing plants approximately $1.6 million over the pollution they caused. The EPA "found total non-compliance with hazardous waste regulations". The EPA also claimed that wastes from fur processing plants "may cause respiratory problems, and are listed as possible carcinogens."
Fur farms also produce massive amounts of animal waste that is consolidated in one small area. Animal wastes are high in phosphorous and nitrogen. Rains may wash this waste downhill towards streams and other bodies of water. Other times it may soak into the soil, and can contaminate the ground water.
Environmentally friendly, the fur industry is not.
Unfortunately, now that the fur market has been resurrected, a large, merchandizing machine has been unleashed, one who has survived the crisis of conscience before, as it has its origins in the creation of Canada itself. Only time will tell if compassion can win over commercial cruelty and lay this relic of Canada's past finally to rest.
Time may tell but there are those who will not wait. Local animal rights group CAGED will be having an information picket to promote compassion for fur-bearers and protest against the heartless use of fur for fashion. All are welcome to come out to Nadel's Furs on Ottawa St. North on February 11, from noon until 2 p.m.
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