The global fur trade is big business and worth over $22 billion.1 Despite the tsunami of brands pledging to steer clear of fur, and the huge risks the fur industry brings to containing virus outbreaks like COVID and avian influenza, brands such as Fendi and Max Mara continue to sell it all around the world. Fur is also an incredibly cruel business that sees millions of foxes, minks, raccoon dogs, rabbits and other species kept in horrific conditions and brutally slaughtered for their fur every year.
Each year more than 100 million animals are killed by the fur industry. Be it raised on a farm or hunted and trapped in the wild, the treatment of animals used for the fur trade is inherently cruel and causes enormous animal suffering.
95% of fur comes from animals that have suffered their entire lives in factory farms, where they experience horrific cruelty and extreme stress, fear and suffering throughout their short lives. Millions of foxes, minks, rabbits, and even cats and dogs, are kept in horrific conditions and brutally slaughtered for their fur every year. On fur farms:
- Small, dirty, and barren cages make it impossible for animals to move freely and to express their normal behavior.
- Deformities are common and wounds are left untreated and quickly become infected.
- Out of stress and frustration, animals display stereotypical and abnormal behaviors such as repetitive movements, fur chewing, and self-injury.
- Handling methods include beating, strangling, and dragging animals.
- Cruel slaughter methods include gassing, electrocution, breaking the neck and in the worst-case skinning animals alive.
- Selective breeding of "monster foxes" for pathological obesity to maximize the size of their pelt.
For those animals trapped in the wild, the horrific use of steel-jaw leghold traps, body-gripping traps, underwater traps, and wire neck snares inflict extreme pain and suffering to animals. Animals may suffer for days, or die through blood loss, thirst, exposure, or starvation before the hunter returns to check on the trap. Animals that manage to stay alive until being found are often brutally killed through drowning, suffocation, beatings or have their chest crushed by a foot or knee.
More than 100 countries have banned the use of leghold traps due to the extreme suffering and pain they cause to animals. In the U.S., however, leghold traps are still one of the most commonly used traps by commercial and recreational fur trappers.
Fox suffering in a fur farm in Finland
All so that someone can wear their fur.
All this suffering is completely indefensible. It is also completely unnecessary.
But there is hope.
What are we doing?
The fur free movement has made remarkable progress in recent decades. At least 1,600 fashion labels, including Prada, H&M, Gucci and Adidas, for example, have committed to being fur-free as part of the international Fur Free Retailer Program (FFRP) and major cities and fashion events are taking a stand against fur.
As a member of the Fur Free Alliance, FOUR PAWS U.S. is proud to also be an official representative of the FFRP. We are involved in several national coalitions working towards legislative change for a fur-free future as well.
In the U.S.
In October 2019, California became the first U.S. state to adopt a ban on the sales and manufacture of animal fur products. The legislation will go into effect in 2023 and follows similar sale or import bans in the California cities of Los Angeles (2018), San Francisco (2018), Berkeley (2017) and West Hollywood (2011).
In Massachusetts, Lexington became the sixth municipality to ban the retail sale of fur in 2023. It follows similar fur sales bans in Cambridge (2022), Plymouth (2022), Brookline (2021), Weston (2021), and Wellesley (2020). Wellesley was actually the first municipality in the U.S. outside of California to pass a ban on new fur sales.
FOUR PAWS was born out of a determination to end fur farming – and this determination has only grown. Together with an alliance of animal welfare organizations, FOUR PAWS has launched a European Citizen Initiative: "Fur Free Europe". The petition launched in May 2022 and closed early in March 2023 after collecting more than 1,502,319 validated signatures from European Union (EU) citizens supporting a call for an EU-wide ban on fur farming as well as placing farmed fur, and products containing such fur, on the EU market.
Fur Free Europe is the 10th successful ECI since the tool was launched in 2012 and represents the most successful ECI for animal welfare, while being the third most successful overall.
FOUR PAWS continues to support the highly successful Fur Free Retailer program and, through our Wear it Kind program, we are building a global movement of people, brands, and designers committed to ensuring that no animal suffers in the name of fashion.
“Our organisation emerged when we opposed fur farms in Austria, more than a quarter of a century ago.”
Heli Dungler, founder of FOUR PAWS