Society for the Advancement of Animal Wellbeing

- Protecting Animals and Conserving the Environment

Fur - Cruel Fashion

Fashion is an art form that reflects the individual’s values as well as society’s trends.

Every where you look celebrities and fashion conscious people buy and wear fur as a status symbol, and indeed it is a symbol, a symbol of a total disregard for the suffering of the animals that died a slow and painful death to provide its skin for a coat, handbag or other fashion item.

On average, to make a single 40 inch fur coat it takes either 200 chinchillas or 60 mink or 8 seals or 20 foxes or 35 rabbits. Let's see exactly where that coat came from.




Today, 85% of the industry’s fur comes from fur farms and the other 15% comes from trapping and or hunting. The main trap used today is the “steel jawed leghold trap”.

The trap is used to catch foxes, minks and raccoons and consists of 2 steel jaws with sharp teeth and a loaded spring in the center. When an animal steps on the spring, the jaws slam shut with a colossal 90 pounds of pressure per square inch. The jaws then rip through the skin, tendons and flesh right to the bone and hold the animal until the trapper comes to check his traps. It may take days or weeks for the trapper to the return, in the mean time the animal is in constant excruciating pain.

These animals also suffer from exposure, stress, trauma, thirst, starvation and exhaustion when trying to escape. In fact 1 in 4 animals caught in such traps, especially mothers wanting to get back to their children actually chew through there own leg to escape. Many animals lose teeth trying to gnaw off the steel traps; some foxes may lose up to 18 teeth in the futile attempt.

The traps are inherently non-selective meaning they also trap non-target animals that are not used for fur, they are know in the trade as “trash animals”. The number of non-target animals caught can be from 2 to 10 times higher than the number of target animals trapped.

Eagles, squirrels, pet dogs and cats are often inadvertently caught in these barbaric and medieval devices. These non-target animals will be killed. When the trapper finally checks on his traps there are a few methods he may employ to kill the innocent and defenseless animal.

The trapper may use a club, thick iron pole or axe handle to bludgeon the animal to death. Strangulation and drowning are also used. Another technique involves placing one foot on the animal’s head whilst stomping on its chest to squeeze out the air and life from his or her lungs.

All these methods are extremely violent and inhumane and cause great distress and suffering to the animal involved. All in the name of high fashion.

Other traps commonly used are the conibear trap and the water trap. The conibear trap is also known as the instant kill trap as it is meant to kill the animal immediately by snapping shut and breaking the neck of the animal. However research shows that 90% of animals take 3 minutes to die, again this trap is non-selective. The water trap which is used to catch beavers and muskrats is also very cruel. The trap catches hold of the limb and holds the animal underwater until they drown. It takes anywhere from 8 to 25 excruciating minutes for their lungs to fill up with water before they finally black-out and die. Every year 10 to 20 million animals and up to 200 million non-target animals are trapped and murdered.

Hunting for Fur

Every year animals are also hunted for their fur, although “hunt” may be the wrong word for the white baby harp seal pups that have their heads smashed in because hunting usually entails some kind of chase, but these pups like human infants can only crawl ever so slowly and clumsily about the ice.

The pups are usually killed at about 10 to 12 days old when they have just begun to shed their white coat. The fisherman will use hammer headed clubs to knock the babies unconscious, they will do this to as many pups as possible before returning to cave-in their skulls in with a final deathly blow. However this is not always effective and an independent veterinary survey showed that 42% of these babies were still conscious whilst being skinned alive.

Between 2003 and 2006, in Canada nearly 1 million harp seals were killed!


Fur Farms

Originally trapping was the main source of fur in the early 20th century but so extensive was this assault on wildlife that the industry had to start farming animals to provide enough fur pelts. The most farmed animal for fur are minks, followed by foxes however chinchillas, raccoon dogs as well as domestic dogs and cats are frequently bred and skinned for fur. Hundreds of millions of animal a year are subjected to horrific conditions and are finally skinned and killed, in that order.

 The conditions on fur farms the world over are inhumane and are driven by profit and the need to keep the pelt in tact. As with all intensive breeding systems the females are forcibly artificially inseminated or they may be allowed to mate with breeding stock males. The mothering animal gives birth once a year and their offspring are weaned for 6-7 weeks.

On each farm thousands of these animals will be stuffed in to wire cages. Whether they are mink, fox, rabbit or raccoon dogs their life will be the same nightmare. They are fed on a very poor and cheap diet of meat by-products as well as chicken excrement, the food is just dropped on to the top of the cage for the animal to nibble at.

Water is provided through nipple feeders which often break or freeze in the winter, thus the sweet helpless animals suffer from extreme thirst. The cages are kept in open sheds so they are continually exposed to the freezing winter cold or the scorching heat of summer; they have no protection from the elements. The cages are very small; the average mink cage may measure no bigger than 38 by 30 by 61 centimeters. For a creature that is used to roaming the thousands of acres of wetland, such confinement drives them to insanity.

This anxiety induced psychosis causes the animals to eat and chew their own limbs as well as to exhibit repetitive behavior, some animals bite or throw themselves against the cage bars continuously, night and day. The same behavior can be seen in foxes and other caged animals, that are by nature very active and curious but secluded. Some mothers are so distressed that they kill there newborns at birth although some argue this is an act of mercy to save them from a life of torture. These animals spend day and night confined in cages sleeping in their own excrement, the urine and feces build up to such high concentrations that the ammonia burns the eyes and throat causing a number of respiratory problems. So bad are the hygiene conditions that viral enteritis, fleas, ticks, pneumonia as well as urinary and bladder infection are rife.

The minks would normally spend 70% of their time in water but this is not the case on fur farms, as a result their salivation, respiration and perspiration increase to unnatural and painful levels. This all done to provide the soft lining or trimming of coats as well as for other clothing, but that’s not the worst of it.

Killing and Skinning

The slaughter and of course skinning of the living and feeling animal is carried out after the first winter molt and is the most horrendous act a person can commit on another sentient being.

In the west stunning or killing is usually carried out prior to skinning but these methods are often ineffective. Small animals such as chinchillas or rodents will be put into a room and gassed with exhaust fumes from the engine of a vehicle. These hot fumes burn the lungs as the animals squeal for life and painfully suffocate on the carbon monoxide. They will then be skinned with a knife; some animals regain consciousness and thus feel their skins being torn away from their body.

Minks have there necks twisted and are strangled. Foxes will have a metal rod pushed in to the anus and another rod will be rammed in to the mouth, the fox will then be electrocuted, the shock is so much that the animals screams and convulses in burning pain, eventually dying of a heart attack. This is done to preserve the integrity of the pelt not the animal. The thought of this happening to one’s self seems unimaginable.

Rabbits may also be electrocuted or hit over the head, the rabbits are then hung upside down on hooks, still alive and hopelessly pawing the air. Their throats are slit and then their paws and head are sliced off as the rabbit convulses in utter agony, its fur coat is then peeled of its raw decapitated body. Currently there is an increasing demand for rabbit fur which is supplied mainly by France and China. This fur will line gloves and is used for other decorative items, is it worth it?

Skinned Alive

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Raccoon dogs also face the ghastly fate of being skinned alive. These intelligent and endearing animals at the time of skinning will be dragged from their cages. As they paw desperately on the floor they will be grabbed by their hind legs, swung in the air and slammed face first in to the concrete floor.

If this doesn’t work they may be repeatedly beaten over the head with a heavy stick or pole, alternatively they will have their throat and necks stamped on until they are unconscious. Next they are piled up high, many of these animals are still alive, and their hearts are still beating and their eyes still blinking and searching for escape. The skinner will then come, knife in hand and hang the creature up by their feet, a cut is made from the anus and across the legs, the skin is ripped open down the abdomen and then with great force is totally torn of the body as the dog yelps and thrashes in excruciating agony.

Steam rises of their raw and bloody bodies as they are thrown away; still alive they look at each other’s furless red bodies. It may take another 5 to 10 minutes for them to die. This is done for fashion, for vanity, for profit.

Pet Dogs and Cats

This treatment isn’t confined to wild animals; there are an estimated 2 million domesticated, loving and loyal dog and cat companions that are skinned annually, mainly in Asia. Usually they are strays, however some of these animals are lost pets as is evidenced by the collars around their necks. Packed in to crates they are transported long distances to markets to be sold and skinned. Thrown from trucks they end up with broken limbs, however sadly this is the least of their problems.

Slaughter or stunning methods vary from being slammed in to the ground, being hung with a wire a noose to being drowned by having a hose rammed in to the lungs and flooded with water. Some animal companions are still conscious when they are hung up by the tail or feet and are subsequently skinned alive.

Much of this fur is deliberately mislabeled and sold as rabbit fur. Would you wear a canine or feline companion’s skin, if you buy clothes with a fur trim collar you well might be doing this.


So how can we stop this sadistic cruelty? First, stop buying fur products, if in doubt don’t buy it. Alternatively there are numerous faux fur or fake fur materials that are equally soft and glamorous as well as cheap and eco-friendly. Faux fur requires 60 times less energy and resources than real fur. You can also write to your favorite fashion designer or clothing stores and ask them to stop using fur.

For more information and videos on fur please visit

To find out what else you can do please visit the How You Can Help section or read more animal issues.

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