I must admit, some stories test my ability to see both sides of an issue.
But as a news reporter, I have to remain neutral — I have to keep my articles balanced and fair, as they say.
Recently, a mink farm near Burley was raided by so-called “animal liberators.” These animal activists release fur-bearing animals from the confines of their cages and into the wild.
The activists who claimed responsibility for the raid on the mink farm said in an online magazine that they “acted with love in our hearts.”
Many have argued against that claim.
Times-News reader Jared Boley commented online, saying: “Those mink will now die of starvation, disease, and the elements! Granting a cruel, slow, inhumane death!”
Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission USA, agreed.
Whelan told me that these “liberated” mink seldom survive in the wild. Many are hit by cars because they have learned to associate the sound of a vehicle with food.
I love animals, and I understand the emotional issues behind animal activism. But I also respect Idaho’s right-to-farm act.
Mink farming is not illegal, but destruction of property is.
The raid is an act of “economic terrorism in my book,” commented reader Jeff Pierson. “No different than burning down a saw mill in northern Idaho.”
Pierson is correct. Acts of sabotage against animal farms are a felony under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, signed into law in 2006.
Anonymous activists encourage these raids online but do not carry out the raids themselves.
“They know better,” said Whelan. “They target young, impressionable kids looking for a cause.”
I’d like to quote what the activists said in their online magazine called “Bite Back” about the July 28 raid on the Moyle mink farm outside of Burley:
“They will claim that we are terrorists. We say that if peacefully opening cages is an act of terrorism, then the word has no meaning. It is appropriately applied to the mass imprisonment and killing of wild animals.
“They will claim that these mink are domesticated animals and will starve. Documentation on the success of farm-bred mink in the wild is extensive, so we will add only our experience watching these naturally aquatic animals, who had spent their entire lives in cages, head instinctively for water and begin to swim and hunt.
“They will claim that conditions on mink farms are humane. We ask why, then, they try only to hide those farms from the public, pushing for legislation to criminalize the taking of photographs. The mink that we freed from the Moyles lived in intensive confinement in their own waste. Their suffering was plain to the eye, and their yearning for freedom plain to the soul.
“…They will say that we will not stop short of the complete and total end of the killing of animals for their fur. On this point we are in total agreement.”
Jack Rose, a physiology professor at Idaho State University who occasionally conducts medical research on minks at his lab at the university’s Department of Biological Sciences in Pocatello, was recently placed on an animal activist group’s “hit list.”
“These kids think they will become heroes for sabotaging a mink farm,” Rose said. “What they don’t realize is that these actions make them criminals and could follow them for the rest of their lives.”
Have yourself a furry little Christmas! By Jane Chastain for WorldNetDaily. (December 2005)
The view from a Utah mink ranch. By John Adkins Jr., Black Willow Mink. (November 2005)
© 1998-2011 Fur Commission USA
Animal rights zealots continue to make sensational accusations against the fur industry to attract media attention and solicit donations for their various campaigns and organizations. Their goal is to destroy the livelihoods and reputations of hundreds of family farmers, along with the supporting businesses; but their claims have no basis in fact. In reality, their sensational and unsubstantiated claims are insulting to American mink farmers and misleading to the public. Here are a few of the most common activist claims, along with the FACTS:
ANIMAL RIGHTS CLAIM: Animals are routinely skinned alive for their fur.
FACT: This scurrilous claim continues to circulate, due to the horrendous video produced in 2005 by Swiss Animal Protection (SAP), in which an Asiatic Raccoon is skinned alive somewhere in rural China. When the video surfaced, the Chinese authorities demanded to know details in order to prosecute the collaborators on animal cruelty charges[i], but SAP has refused to provide the original, un-edited footage, or provide any information on the participants or the locations used in the video. Upon further review, audio indicates that the participants were being coached from behind the camera. Their refusal to answer to the authorities or the public leads most of us to believe that this cruel and gruesome video was staged merely to further their animal rights agenda. Recently, PETA Asia, after using this claim for years against the fur industry, stated that “PETA has never suggested that animals are intentionally slaughtered this way”
Respected media outlets have refused to air the video as its credibility cannot be established. The fur industry is universally appalled by the video and fully supports prosecution of those involved in its creation. No legitimate fur producing operation would ever condone such practices. For more information on staged video used for animal rights propaganda, see Saving Society from Animal “Snuff” Films” and “Media Wary of Latest Shock Video”
ANIMAL RIGHTS CLAIM: Fur farming is an un-regulated business conducted behind closed doors.
FACT: Like other livestock operations, fur farming is governed by local, national and sometimes international regulations. As with all livestock producers, fur farmers receive information and assistance from licensed veterinarians and agricultural extension officers, as well as professional associations. In addition, fur breeders’ associations in all major producing countries follow comprehensive animal husbandry practices developed in cooperation with scientists, veterinarians and welfare authorities. There are set standards for nutrition and housing, veterinary care and humane harvesting. In the U.S., standards for mink farms are administered by Fur Commission USA, and for fox by the US Fox Shippers Council. In addition to these, fur farms, like other livestock operations, are required to abide by all state and federal environmental statutes.
ANIMAL RIGHTS CLAIM: Mink are raised and killed solely for their fur.
FACT: Although fur is the primary product for mink farmers, nothing is wasted. An important secondary product is the highly valued oil produced from the mink’s thick layer of subcutaneous fat. Mink oil is used to condition and preserve leather, and also in the manufacturing of hypo-allergenic facial oils and cosmetics. After harvesting, mink remains are used as crab bait, or processed into feed for wildlife preserves, zoos or aquariums. They also make a very sought-after ingredient for organic compost, or they may be rendered down to provide raw materials for a wide range of products, from pet food and paint, to tire-care product. Last but surely not least, the nutrient-rich manure from fur farms is in heavy demand as an organic crop fertilizer.
ANIMAL RIGHTS CLAIM: Farmed mink suffer and die painfully.
FACT: When it comes to euthanasia, fur farmers adhere strictly to the methods recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association[ii]. Thus the only method of euthanasia approved for mink in the U.S. is gas; either pure carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide. When harvest time comes, a mobile unit is brought to the animals’ pens to eliminate any stress that might be caused by transporting them long distances. The animals are placed inside an air-tight container and immediately rendered unconscious. They die quickly and humanely.
ANIMAL RIGHTS CLAIM: Fur is a vanity product, purchased only by the very wealthy.
FACT: Recent surveys indicate the number one reason people purchase a fur coat is for its warmth. So it goes that fur sales increase when we experience colder winters, and decrease during milder weather cycles. Produced by nature, fur is isothermic, providing exceptional insulation while being lightweight and beautiful. Furthermore, today fur is available in combination with other materials (e.g., as trim on parkas) or in smaller pieces (scarves, headbands, vests, accessories) which makes fur very accessible for almost anyone. Because each piece is hand-made individually by skilled artisans, fur products may often be more expensive than the synthetic outerwear mass produced in automated environments – but fur is also very long-lasting, which makes sense for the environment as well as for the pocketbook.
[i] “Statement from The People’s Government of Suning County, Hebei Province, China, on the Report “Fun Fur” from Swiss Animal Protection Organization”. http://www.furcommission.com/statement-from-the-peoples-government-of-suning-county/;
[ii] “AVMA Guidelines on Euthaniasia”, June 2007; Pg 21, Euthanasia of Animals Raised for Fur Production. https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Documents/euthanasia.pdf:
(As appeared in Third Coast Digest)
It started with going to see Anna Karenina before Christmas. I was captivated by the Dr. Zhivago-esque exquisiteness of the fur costumes—a visual treat for fashion followers like myself, and apparently the Oscar nominating committee, as Anna Karenina is up for Best Costume Design.
Then I went to Aspen for the holidays. Fashion in Aspen is an avalanche of stars and styles, especially the opening weekend of the X-Games at Snowmass, The Little Nell, and all along the cobblestone streets of the Rocky Mountains. There, in a storefront window, I saw a stunning snow-white fur coat. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, chasing fur from chinchilla, to mink, fox, and even faux, to find out what’s hot in winter fur from top designers.
In the name of “journalistic research,” I discovered Aspen’s haute couture. The luscious white coat in the window was an originalDennis Basso design, and the renowned master furrier was hosting a holiday party that evening. In the midst of luxurious furs, champagne, and the gracious Dennis Basso himself, I felt like Julia Roberts on Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman.
At Loro Piana’s, I discovered why the Canadian Fur Company considers Dominic Bellissimo’s designs to be the best. The reversible furs, featuring high-performance cashmere blends, offer the ultimate in warmth and wearability.
On display at Aspen Fur & Shearling LLC was a rustic, but no less rich, leather and fur western-look coat that seemed the epitome of both Aspen’s gold-rush history and present-day luxury lifestyle. Now owned by third-generation family member Mickey Apler, Aspen Fur & Shearling features unique pieces for both men and women.
When I wandered through Prada the same day, fur not only covered the floor, but also handbags, shoes, scarves, and outerwear for both genders. Aspen men, an eccentric bunch, wear fur with aplomb, and the rest of men’s fashion seems to be echoing their bravado.
Back from Aspen, New York fashion editor/stylist Tim Bitici honored me with a “fur”-ious convo, including his invaluable advice regarding faux fur maintenance.
If you’re seeking a faux fur alternative, Joy West Collection offers the highest quality for people wanting the look, but who are either opposed to wearing real fur, or are budget-conscious. True to their animal-friendly stance, Joy’s sales team welcomed both me and my Siberian Husky into their faux fur-filled boutique.
Among Tim’s choices for faux are Lanvin Paris, G-Star, and, believe it or not, Juicy Couture. “Fur is huge on all the runways for 2013,” said Tim, who loves mink, fox, gray wolf, and more exotic furs. He prefers chic gray (silvery) and golden brown furs the most, but he says his “ultimate favorite” is oxblood. “It’s so rich and luxe, like Lindsey Wixsonin Prada.”
“Fendi is how fur is done,” said Tim. “Tom Ford—wow, he does the red and yellow fur like no other. Jean Paul Gaultier for fun, colorful looks.Alexander McQueen for gorgeous shaped furs that are beyond original and stylish.”
Tim’s own shoots show his signature creativity: he puts a fur vest over a leopard coat in one shot, and a mohair fur in another. “Every designer is influenced by history and by fashion from the ’20s, ’40s, ’60s, ’70s, and film,” said Tim. “Designers find inspiration there and follow it through to their creations.”
Locally, along the coast of Lake Michigan, there’s plenty of places to find fur treasures in vintage and resale shops. Wisconsin was, after all, built on the business of beaver and pelt trading. Milwaukee’s A.J. Ugent Furs, on 84th & Capitol, boasts not only the best furs, but also on-site, accessible storage.
Wondering where to wear your fur? Any of the Bartolotta restaurants work, such as Joey Gerard’s in Mequon, where last week, more than a few fur coats were seen as the wind chill dipped below zero. There’s no better, or more beautiful, way to wrap yourself up this winter than with fur.
From runway to reality, Supermodels are admired for their statuesque style and striking beauty. Their wardrobes run the gamut from polished and sophisticated, to wild and fantastical. One constant that many of these GLAMAZONS can attest to is that fur fashion plays a big part of their story both on and off duty….
Every so often the misguided souls that call themselves ALF — short for the Animal Liberation Front — resurface and announce their latest “accomplishment” in an email or on the Internet. They “free” a few pheasants, chickens or ducks by trespassing and vandalizing a farm. They vandalize a fur or leather store. They go to a fish farm and free some salmon.
Leaders of the animal rights and Earth “liberation” movements often deny that their agendas are extreme, but their own words tell a different story.
Most proponents of animal rights and Earth “liberation” do not live in close proximity with nature. They live in cities, and have little contact with nature, especially wildlife. Some may keep pets, but even that is frowned upon by animal rights leaders.
Believers in animal rights want domestic breeds of animal, including livestock and pets, to be eliminated, while those animals already “enslaved” should be “liberated” from human domination. Wildlife, meanwhile, should not be managed by humans, even if this means overpopulation, habitat damage, and massive die-offs from starvation and disease.
Animal rightitsts and Earth liberationists do not tell you that putting land under the plough to grow more crops reduces habitat for wildlife. They do not tell you that the planting, fertilizing and harvesting of crops cause the deaths of countless animals. They do nottell you that most synthetic clothing is made from petro-chemicals, causing pollution and resulting in a non-biodegradable product. And they do not tell you of the vital role played by animal protein in the human diet. If you don’t believe nature intended us to be omnivores, just look at your teeth!
Confused? You will be after hearing what these animal rights and Earth “liberation” leaders have to say.
Read, in their own words, their opinions and perspectives:
Animal Defense League – Los Angeles (featuring Jerry Vlasak)
Foreman, David (The Wildlands Project; formerly with Earth First!)
Francione, Gary (Rutgers University Animal Rights Law Center)
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (“Captain” Paul Watson)
Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) (Includes Josh Harper, Kevin Jonas)
United Poultry Concerns (Karen Davis)
- Abbott, Erin; activist, Ocean Defense International
- Amory, Cleveland; founder, Fund For Animals
- Best, Dr. Steven; University of Texas professor
- Churchill, Ward; University of Colorado professor
- Conroy, Jake; Sea Defense Alliance and other groups
- DeRose, Chris; President, Last Chance for Animals
- F.A.R.M. (Farm Animal Reform Movement)
- Katz, Elliot; CEO, In Defense of Animals
- Manson, Charles
- Marino, Camille (Negotiation Is Over)
- New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance
- Nocella, Tony; co-founder, Radical Education Community; president, Houston Animal Rights Team; Center for Animal Liberation Affairs
- Singer, Peter; author of “Animal Liberation”; founder of International Association of Bioethics
- Vegetarians International Voice for Animals
Other Animal Rights Quotes pages (Outside links):
Words of Wisdom Quotes from supporters of animal welfare and the sustainable use of renewable natural resources.
It is said that the modern animal rights movement began with the publication of Peter Singer’s book, “Animal Liberation,” published in 1975. But the animal rights philosophy actually has its roots much deeper in history. 19th century British philosopher Jeremy Bentham pointed to the capacity for suffering as the vital characteristic that gives all sentient beings the right to equal consideration. He wrote that the capacity for suffering — and/or enjoyment or happiness — is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher mathematics. The capacity for suffering is a prerequisite for having interests at all, a condition that must be met before we can speak of rights.
Singer took Bentham’s argument one step further by drawing a comparison between discrimination against humans (racism) and discrimination against animals (speciesism). According to Singer, the racist violates the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of his/her race than to others. Similarly, the speciesist allows the interest of his/her species to override those of other species. The pattern, in Singer’s view, is identical in each case.
In both the historic and modern views of animal rights, the key point is “sentience,” or the capacity to experience pain or pleasure.
In the animal rights view, if a being is capable of suffering, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering of any other being. It is true, of course, that we cannot know exactly how animals suffer. We know what pain feels like to us but not to others. We assume that our friends experience pain as we do. They don’t have to speak a word. Screaming, writhing about, crying and other behavior tells us they are in pain. We see the same sort of behavior in animals.
In the animal rights view, the question is not merely whether an animal suffers as a consequence of any particular animal use. The question is whether humans have the right to exploit other sentient beings for any purpose. Even if a particular type of animal use is considered “humane” by traditional definitions, the fact that the animal has the capacity to suffer is sufficient to make its use unacceptable.
For further information contact Fur Commission USA.
© 1998-2011 Fur Commission USA
People are part of the natural world, and our relationship with animals is defined in large measure by the natural order. We know that humans and animals are inextricably tied together. In fact, we depend upon one another. It is virtually impossible for any living creature on this planet to exist without making use of fellow creatures. This is a fact that is unquestioned by any member of the animal kingdom with the exception of humans.
The notion of rights is a uniquely human one. Animals do not recognize the rights of other animals. They kill and eat one another as a matter of survival. But for humans, the concept of rights is a fundamental element of our social pact — the contract that permits us to live with one another in comparative harmony. As part of that contract, we recognize that rights are accompanied by responsibilities. In return for our rights as members of society, we accept the obligation to abide by society’s laws.
But animals cannot be parties to contacts. If we are prepared to assign rights to animals, what responsibilities do we expect them to fulfil?
The American Veterinary Medical Association has defined animal welfare as “a human responsibility” to assure that the basic needs of animals are met. There is no question that our power over animals brings with it the responsibility to treat them with respect and compassion.
Although many cultures have vastly differing views and traditions of animal use, most western societies have adopted basic rules governing human behavior toward animals. In the U.S., laws have been enacted at the federal level to assure the welfare of animals in medical research labs as well as the health of dogs and cats raised in professional kennels. These laws are administered by theU.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition, most communities have local laws and ordinances to protect animals from unnecessary cruelty. These rules address everything from pet neglect and abuse to the treatment of circus animals, and from hunting and fishing to meat packing. Without addressing the issue of whether animals have inherent rights, our society has enacted laws to govern the behavior of human beings in their interaction with animals.
In the animal welfare view, social traditions and the body of existing law with respect to our use of animals are based on the premise that man’s right to use animals for human benefit carries with it the responsibility to do so humanely. These traditions and laws exist because for centuries man has recognized the wisdom and natural correctness of using animals for food, clothing, research, education and companionship.
For further information contact Fur Commission USA.
© 1998-2011 Fur Commission USA
Despite its name, the Humane Society of the United States is not affiliated with your local humane society. HSUS doesn’t run a single pet shelter and gives only 1 percent of its budget to local shelters.
This is news to most Americans. According to public polling, about 70 percent of Americans mistakenly believe that HSUS is a pet shelter “umbrella group” and that HSUS gives most of its money to pet shelters.
Why the massive perception-reality gap? We can certainly thank HSUS’s multimillion-dollar ad campaign. You know the formula: Slow music, B-list celebrity spokeswoman, and pictures of sad-looking dogs and cats. And that fine-print disclaimer that HSUS is independent of local humane societies? It’s on less than 1 percent of the ads. See how the scam works?
Here’s what an honest HSUS TV appeal might look like. There’s no confusion, and no need for a disclaimer. But we’re going to go out on a limb and guess it wouldn’t be quite as lucrative for HSUS.
Created by the HumaneWatch Team. For more information go to http://www.humanewatch.org/