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: