Are there fur farms in Canada
100 million animals are killed annually for fur, 85 percent of them on fur farms. Despite prohibitions and good intentions, the fur trade remains a bloody business.
Whether for a mink stole or a fur coat: animals whose fur is processed into clothing are kept and killed all over the world under cruel conditions. Most fur animals are either not at all or completely inadequately protected. In 1999 the Council of Europe passed a recommendation for fur animals on farms, but from the point of view of animal welfare it is completely inadequate.
Small cages are still permitted
Caging in confined spaces is still permitted, for example with minks. Around the world, around 27 million minks are killed for pelts every year. They are kept on fur farms in 30 x 90 cm cages, often three to five animals per cage, and have to endure there from their birth in May to their death in November.
Wire mesh floors, which cut the paws of the animals, are tolerated in such farms, as is the lack of climbing or swimming opportunities for fur animals. Foxes, chinchillas and rabbits are also kept in cages. In this way, freedom of movement and their natural (hunting) behavior are prevented.
Little regulations, cruel killing
Another cruel detail of keeping fur animals: so that the fur of the animals remains intact, they are killed by gassing, breaking the neck or electric shock. In many EU countries there are no further regulations for fur farms apart from the regulation of 1999. According to the Four Paws Association, 85 percent of the furs traded worldwide come from fur farms.
Catching iron for wild animals
But even catching wild animals is anything but animal-friendly. In Alaska, Canada and Russia, millions of foxes, wolves and raccoons are caught with metal trapping irons, known as leghold irons. The injured animals are often only "collected" after a few days by the trappers and beaten to death because the fur has to remain undamaged.
Other animals such as roe deer, deer or cats also fall into traps that are not intended for them - they are considered "waste" by the fur industry. Furs from traps also reach Austria via international trade.
Austria: No fur farms, but trade
In Austria, fur farms have been banned under the Federal Animal Protection Act since 2005, but not trading in fur from fur farms or trapping. The local furriers adhere to certain minimum standards in the production of furs: "We use animal skins from animals that are killed anyway," assures Philipp Sladky, guild master of the Lower Austrian furriers.
That means, on the one hand, we are dealing with animals whose meat is processed (for example, lamb or veal skins from European countries or Swakara sheep from Namibia); But it is also about animals that are intended for commercial hunting (including foxes and martens from local hunting).
Animal-friendly husbandry in fur farms?
Sladky himself also imports mink, for example from Danish fur farms: "There are big differences in how they are kept, in Denmark emphasis is placed on animal-friendly husbandry." The mink are kept in cages, but the quality of the fur says a lot about how it is kept.
"The husbandry standards prevailing in a fur farm cannot meet the demands of the animals and therefore never conform to animal welfare standards," countered Veronika Weissenböck from Vier Pfoten. In countries that introduced higher standards for the keeping of fur animals, this ultimately led to the abandonment of fur farms as the business became unprofitable due to the setting of higher standards.
Obligation to label origin and material
Master furrier Sladky, on the other hand, points to other positive aspects: The Austrian furriers have imposed an obligation to label the origin and material of the furs, and the Viennese master furriers have set out in a charter that they refrain from using imported cat and dog fur.
Cat fur instead of fake fur
Be that as it may, if you absolutely want to rule out cruelty to animals, you should not buy products of animal origin. An alternative to real fur is artificial or faux fur. Unfortunately, real fur and artificial fur are sometimes not easy to distinguish from one another (see chapter "How do I recognize artificial fur?"). Incorrectly labeled dog and cat skins from Asian countries such as China keep coming back to Europe and are sold here as fake fur.
Camouflaged animal skins on the European market
Although an EU-wide import ban on pet fur came into effect on January 1, 2009, the animal fur disguised as faux fur was launched on the European market. "It cannot be ruled out that dog or cat fur will be imported into the EU," confirms Veronika Weissenböck. However, she considers deliberate violations by larger companies to be unlikely.
Especially hats or jackets with fur trimmings can be the fur of cats or dogs - a dog fur from China is cheaper to produce than a well-made faux fur. "Since November 2014 animal skins have to be labeled across the EU," says Monika Springer from the Verein gegen Tierfabriken. "A label with the words 'Contains textile parts of animal origin' must be affixed to clothing, including imported goods."
Real fur uses three times more energy
One thing is certain: the production of faux fur is definitely more environmentally friendly than that of real fur. Animal skins must be treated with chemicals that are harmful to the environment and health, such as chromium or formaldehyde, otherwise they will rot.
A study by the University of Michigan has shown that the production of real fur also uses three times as much energy as that of faux fur. This contradicts a campaign launched by the fur industry which suggests that furs are "natural" and "ecological".
Some European countries protect fur animals through stricter national regulations:
- Bulgaria has banned the production, import and export of furs (only skins, not products).
- The Swiss Animal Welfare Act stipulates that wild animals such as minks and foxes must be kept below zoo standards. These requirements are so high that Switzerland has long been free from fur farms.
- In the Netherlands Keeping foxes and chinchillas for fur production is prohibited. However, mink - the most important fur animals in the Netherlands - remain inadequately protected.
Clear labeling required
The animal welfare organization Vier Pfoten demands a legal labeling requirement for all fur products with clear information about the species, the geographical origin and the keeping conditions of the animals.
How do I recognize faux fur?
Real fur and fake fur are often hard to tell apart. In the case of fur trimmings, it is often not declared what it is. However, there are a few tricks you can use to distinguish real fur from fake fur:
The undercoat test: Pull the upper hair of the fur a little apart and see what comes out underneath. If the fur is long or uncut, an undercoat can sometimes be seen in real fur. This consists of very fine, dense and fluffy hair, which warm the animals excellently in nature.
The leather test: Probably the simplest test with a low error rate. There is always a layer of leather under the fur. So pull your hair apart in this case too. So you should be able to tell whether it is an artificial fabric or leather.
The wind test: Real fur often moves with a light breeze. If you just blow the fur very gently and the hair is still moving, you are probably looking at real fur.
The odor test: Real fur can be distinguished from fake fur by burning a few hairs. If you smell a synthetic smell and the hair melts into small, hard clumps, it is fake fur. However, if the hair falls apart and it smells like burnt hair, then it is real fur.
- No fur without suffering. Neither breeding farms nor wild animal trapping can do without animal cruelty. If you want it to be real fur, then pay attention to the labeling. Specialty stores are generally more trustworthy than cheap stores. Furs that are noticeably inexpensive are very likely to come from animal-cruel keeping.
- Faux fur as an alternative. Buy faux fur if you want to avoid animal suffering. However, you should make sure that the faux fur is not incorrectly declared. The simplest test: There must be an artificial fabric under the fur, not leather.
- Dealer list. The Fur Free Retailer Program maintains a list of retailers who have committed to phasing out fur sales (www.furfreeretailer.com).
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