HSI/UK releases footage of animal suffering on fur farms in China, which exports millions of pounds worth of fur to the UK, renewing calls for a UK import and sales ban

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI 

LONDON—Heart-wrenching scenes of baby foxes, raccoon dogs and minks suffering on Chinese fur farms have been released by Humane Society International/UK as the animal protection charity renews calls for a ban on UK fur imports and sales. Millions of pounds worth of fur from China is imported into Britain every year, despite the UK having banned fur farming two decades ago on ethical grounds.

HSI’s investigation at nine fur farms in northern China — one of the world’s largest fur producing countries — focuses on a side of the fur trade rarely exposed in investigations, the suffering of babies and their mothers forced to live in cramped, filthy, unnatural conditions. Many of the older animals were found to be exhibiting behaviours signifying psychological distress, such as repetitively pacing their tiny cages. The film also showed a raccoon dog cub struggling to walk on wire mesh floor in a cage, adult foxes peering out from cages barely longer than their body length, and mink circling around in dirty cages, above piles of excrement.

Fur farming has been illegal in the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in 2003. Despite this, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs records show that £28,492,281 of fur has been imported to the UK from China in the last five years. HSI/UK is urging the Government to end this double standard by banning imports and sales of fur in the UK.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “HSI’s latest investigation has once again highlighted the inhumane treatment animals suffer as fur fashion victims. The fur trade would prefer that the grim realities of fur farming were out of sight and out of mind, but as a country we owe it to these animals not to turn away, and to stop being complicit in their suffering. Many Britons will be horrified to find out that it is perfectly legal for fur from farms like those we investigated to be sold in Britain. A fur sales ban has the backing of over three quarters of the public, and should be an open goal for this Government to deliver on its ambition to be a world leader in animal welfare.”

National polling carried out in April 2022 revealed that 77% of British citizens think the Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where the production methods are already banned in the UK. The #FurFreeBritain campaign has so far gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures calling on the UK to ban fur imports and sales.

In its Action Plan for Animal Welfare in 2021, the Government stated: “Fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds in England and Wales since 2000, and since 2002 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whilst there are existing import restrictions on seal, cat and dog fur, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad, so we will explore potential action in this area.”

In May 2021 the UK Government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. Around 30,000 responses were submitted before the consultation closed in June 2021, but 18 months on, officials are yet to release the results, or set out a policy response.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

Humane Society International/UK celebrates “iconic moment” towards a #FurFreeBritain

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Raccoon dog and pup
Erik Mandre/Alamy

LONDON—British department store Harvey Nichols has confirmed that it will stop selling fur by the end of 2023, following an investigation into Chinese fur farms by animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK.

Responding to the news, Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Harvey Nichols going fur free is an iconic moment in our campaign for a Fur Free Britain. This world famous British department store has come to the inevitable conclusion that so-called ‘ethical fur’ simply doesn’t exist and fur farming flies in the face of any credible notion of sustainability. Harvey Nichols’ compassionate stance now leaves the handful of remaining retailers that continue to sell fur looking increasingly isolated.”

The news was confirmed today in a statement to The Mirror. When asked if Harvey Nichols will continue to sell fur products, following Humane Society International/UK’s latest investigation footage from fur farms in China, a spokesperson said: “As part of our ongoing review of these practices and continued sustainability initiatives, Harvey Nichols confirms that it will phase out the sale of fur or fur-trimmed products both online and in stores, to be completely fur-free by the end of 2023.” 

The well-known retail chain previously introduced a fur-free policy in 2004, however in 2013 it reneged on this policy and started selling fur products again. As of December 2022, Harvey Nichols was selling fur products from several brands including Yves Solomon, CP Company, Canada Goose, and Moncler. The latter two companies have previously also made commitments to phase-out fur from their designs, with Canada Goose stating they would stop manufacturing fur at the end of 2022, and Moncler stating their last collection using fur will be Autumn/Winter 2023.

HSI/UK wrote to Harvey Nichols in 2022 setting out the many ways in which conditions for animals on fur farms are fundamentally incompatible with the company’s Animal Sourcing Policy, which sets out a commitment to ethical treatment of animals, including ensuring freedom from fear, pain, distress and injury, and freedom to express normal behaviours in sufficient space.

The announcement makes Harvey Nichols the latest in a long line of retailers and designers that have turned their backs on fur in recent years, including Frasers Group, Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Burberry, Chanel and Prada. The announcement signifies the accelerating decline of the fur trade and adds further pressure to the few remaining fashion brands that continue to sell fur to follow suit.   

Humane Society International/UK works to end the fur trade globally and leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur imports and sales ban. 

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Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

Ricky Gervais and Pete Wicks lend their support to Fur Free Britain campaign as Humane Society International/UK and FOUR PAWS UK launch new investigation and report exposing cruelty of global fur trade

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

LONDON—Politicians, celebrities and campaigners gathered in Parliament today to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the UK becoming the first country to ban fur farming, and to urge the UK Government to ‘finish the job’ by banning fur imports and sales. The Only Way Is Essex star Pete Wicks attended and spoke about his previous visit to fur farms, and a new video message in support of the #FurFreeBritain campaign from comedian and actor Ricky Gervais was shown.

Two decades after the last fur farm closed down, the UK continues to allow imports of fur from animals farmed and trapped overseas, creating an unacceptable double-standard. If fur is too cruel to produce here, it is too cruel to sell here, argue the campaigners.

With the support of 35 cross-party MPs, including Elliott Coburn, Maria Eagle, Baroness Jenny Jones and Dr Lisa Cameron who attended a Parliamentary reception sponsored by Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Daniel Zeichner MP in the House of Commons today, FOUR PAWS UK released a new report demonstrating the scale of abuse inherent in the trade and the role the UK continues to play in this cruelty. Attendees watched footage from Humane Society International/UK’s new investigation, undertaken on multiple fur farms in China, revealing the extreme suffering endured by raccoon dogs, mink and foxes for fur fashion. The shocking scenes showed baby animals kept in filthy, barren conditions, with many of the older animals found to be exhibiting signs of mental distress such as pacing and circling their tiny cages.

TOWIE star Pete Wicks was at the event supporting the call for a #FurFreeBritain. Reflecting on his experience of visiting Finnish fur farms with HSI/UK, Pete said: “Nothing can prepare you for how truly awful the fur trade is for these poor animals. We saw dead animals lying in the cages, fox cubs’ tiny paws falling through the wire mesh floor, and even one mink with a head wound being eaten alive by his cage mates. Looking into the eyes of these desperate animals, knowing that they were suffering simply to end up as a bobble on a hat, or a trim on a coat was so shocking. And to know that they could easily be killed for fur that ends up being sold in UK shops, was really upsetting. We simply cannot call ourselves a nation of animal lovers for as long as this cruelty is still being imported here, and while it’s still legal for it to be sold in our shops.”

In a video message, Ricky Gervais said: “The UK was the first country in the world to ban cruel fur farming, but 20 years later, the UK still has blood on its hands by importing fur from overseas. My message to the UK government is simple – end this double standard and BAN fur imports.”

There is strong public backing for a fur sales ban, with over 1.1 million signatures collected to date in support of a #FurFreeBritain. An April 2022 poll revealed 77% of British voters think the UK Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where production methods are already banned in the country. The Government ran a consultation on the UK fur trade in May 2021 which amassed 30,000 responses, but has still not released the results.

Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Daniel Zeichner: “Twenty years ago this month, the then Labour Government shut down the last UK fur farms for good when the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act came into force. However, 20 years on, despite the UK’s strong and unequivocal ethical stand against fur, we are now outsourcing our cruelty overseas. A Labour Government would take action on this double standard and deliver a fur free Britain.”

Elliot Colburn, MP for Carshalton and Wallington said: “The British public rightly has high expectations that the government will deliver promised improvements in the laws that protect animals, and it’s important that we set high standards for the products that we allow to be imported and sold here. We rightly banned fur farming across the UK because it’s so cruel, and now we have the opportunity to lead the way again by banning fur sales, as California has done. The Government has already gathered 30,000 responses in its call for evidence on the UK fur trade, I look forward to seeing the results, which will undoubtedly help inform and underpin a strong policy position.”

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Action on banning the UK’s trade in fur, and other hugely popular and promised animal welfare legislation, has been kicked into the long grass since last summer, and we urge Rishi Sunak and Therese Coffey to get back on track to deliver the Government’s much-applauded Action Plan for Animal Welfare. As politicians and the public start looking at what might be on the menu in manifestos for the next election, committing to ban the cruel and unnecessary fur trade is a wide open goal for all political parties, and we’re delighted with the strong cross-party support for the campaign. The future of fashion is fur free so the sooner we stop trading in cruelty the sooner the suffering overseas stops.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK country director, said: “Globally, the UK is lagging behind and propping up a dying industry. In 2021 Israel became the world’s first country to prohibit the sale of fur and 12 US towns and states have also banned fur sales. And it’s not just governments taking action; from the runways to the high street, the fashion industry has been leading the way for decades, with retailers and consumers alike shunning the cruel and exploitative fur trade. As we mark two decades since fur farming was banned in the UK, it is high time we fully address the UK’s role in what is left of the fur trade and stop importing and exporting cruelty for good. Only by embracing a Fur Free Britain can we help save the lives of millions of animals who are needlessly killed for this abhorrent trade.”

The Parliamentary reception coincided with the launch of an official e-petition calling on the Government to ban the import and sale of fur from all species.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

The UK has imported more than £16million of fur from Finland since 2000

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Oikeutta eläimille

LONDON—Shocking footage showing fur-farmed foxes in Finland with weeping and swollen infected eyes and ears; injured and bloodied tails; and deformed, splayed feet has been released by animal protection groups Oikeutta eläimille and Humane Society International/UK. The footage also shows obese “monster foxes” with huge skin folds from selective breeding; and baby foxes cannibalising their dead siblings.

The footage exposes the suffering of animals for fur fashion, even in a country like Finland where the fur trade boasts that almost 100% of fox fur farms are certified by the fur trade’s SAGA Furs assurance scheme. The scheme promises “the highest level of animal welfare”, but the atrocious conditions documented show a different story. Fox fur originating from Finland is used by brands including Fendi, Yves Salomon, Woolrich, Herno, Ermanno Scervino and Max Mara, and is seen in stores including Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

The exposé comes as more than 1.2 million EU citizens so far have signed the EU-wide “Fur-Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling on the European Commission to ban the farming and sale of fur in the EU. The shocking footage also shines a spotlight on the UK’s fur trading double standard because since banning fur farming in 2000, the UK has imported more than £16million of fur from Finland.

Through its #FurFreeBritain campaign, HSI/UK is urging the government to end this by banning UK fur imports, a move supported by 77% of the British public. A petition calling for a ban on the sale and import of fur in Britain currently stands at over 1.1million signatures.

Claire Bass, senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The suffering that millions of animals endure on fur farms, spending their entire lives in tiny barren cages, is heart breaking. Pus oozing sores, mental breakdown, and cannibalism are the reality of fur farming, and a million miles away from the glossy PR the fur trade tries to sell with its assurance schemes. The UK must stop providing a market for the fur from appallingly treated animals like these, and high-end department stores like Harrods that still sell fur should recognise that there is no such thing as responsibly-sourced fur.

“In 2021, the UK government ran a consultation on the UK fur trade to which 30,000 people responded, but 18 months later it has still not released the results or set out a policy position. For as long as the UK is part of the global fur trade, we’re complicit in this cruelty. The enormous public support for bans on fur farming and sales in both the EU and UK give politicians an overwhelming mandate to consign this cruel trade to the history books once and for all.”

Finnish animal group Oikeutta eläimille filmed at six randomly selected fur farms in the Ostrobothnia region of western Finland between June and November 2022. OE’s Kristo Muurimo said: “The majority of Finns want to ban keeping animals in barren cages just for their fur, but our politicians have failed to bring an end to the cruelty. An EU-wide ban would help the animals also in other member countries where the greed for money is valued over animal welfare. The UK, which led the way with the first fur farming ban, should certainly not be providing a market for products shamefully derived from the diseased, injured and suffering animals who are languishing in Finland’s fur farms.”

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide—that is equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries (14 of which are EU member states), including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Estonia, France, Italy and most recently on 22nd September 2022, Latvia. Political discussions on a ban are also underway in Romania, Lithuania, Spain and Poland. A further two countries (Switzerland and Germany) have implemented such strict regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries (Denmark, Sweden, Hungary) have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone, Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies.
  • The fur trade in Finland is in financial decline, with many fur farms closing down and some fur farmers in Europe diversifying or transitioning to other livelihoods such as solar panels, to secure their future.

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International/UK is calling on the UK government to make a #FurFreeBritain a reality in 2023

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


WildMedia/Alamy Stock

LONDON—The UK risks falling behind on animal welfare as California’s ban on fur sales has now officially taken effect, warns animal charity Humane Society International/UK. While fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds across the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in January 2003, two decades on it is still legal for fur from countries such as Finland and China to be imported and sold here. Using His Majesties’ Revenue and Customs figures and fur auction price data, HSI/UK estimates that the equivalent of around 1.5-2 million animals’ furs are imported annually.

California is the largest sub-national economy in the world and is predicted to soon become the fourth largest global economy. The state’s Gov. Gavin Newsom recently credited its growth on “California’s values and entrepreneurial spirit.” Momentum is also building in Europe as an official European Citizens’ Initiative petition calling for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and the import of fur products has gathered over 1.2 million signatures since it launched in May 2022. By contrast, the UK government has dragged its feet for years on banning fur imports, despite polling showing the overwhelming majority (77%) of the British public think the government should ban the import of products, such as fur, where production methods are already banned in the UK. The campaign for a #FurFreeBritain, led by Humane Society International/UK, has so far amassed more than 1 million petition signatures calling for a UK ban on fur imports and sales, as well as support from more than 80 celebrities.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “When the UK became the first country in the world to ban fur farming, it marked us as a leader in animal protection and paved the way for many countries to follow. But 20 years on, we’re exercising a double standard. While illegal in our own backyard, millions of animals are still suffering in cramped cages overseas for frivolous fur fashion that’s shockingly permitted to be imported and sold in the UK.”

She added: “The Government’s soundbites about being a ‘world leader in animal welfare’ must be called into question when the state of California and 12 cities and towns across America have already banned fur sales, while our Ministers have been sitting on the results of a formal consultation on the UK fur trade for 18 months. Enhanced animal welfare was touted as a ‘Brexit benefit’ by the Government but so far that’s been a hollow promise; at this rate the EU will wash its hands of the disgusting fur trade before the UK does. We urge the Government to turn words into actions and adopt this extremely popular policy to deliver a #FurFreeBritain.”

In May 2021 the UK government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. The consultation closed in June 2021, but the public is still waiting for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to release these findings, despite Ministers confirming they would do so.

California’s new law makes it the first state in the U.S. to take this monumental step to end the fur trade within its borders by banning the sale and manufacturing of new animal fur products. A further 12 US cities and towns have similarly banned fur sales. California’s Assembly Bill 44, which passed in 2019, was championed by Assemblymember Laura Friedman and sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States and Animal Hope in Legislation.

Jenny Berg, California state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said: “We are grateful to California for taking a stand against the cruel fur industry by implementing this statewide ban on the production and sale of new fur products. , especially when humane, environmentally sustainable alternatives exist. We applaud California for leading the fight against fur and sending a powerful message that animals should no longer suffer and die for fashion.”

Assemblymember Laura Friedman commented: “Today marks a historic step forward for California with the implementation of a law that truly represents the values of our constituents. Californians do not want to see animals live and die in cruel ways for nothing more than fashion, and I’m so pleased that this law will help uphold our state’s animal welfare standards as well as potentially help drive innovation for more sustainable fashion alternatives.”

Before the bill’s passage, four municipalities in California – Los Angeles (2018), San Francisco (2018), Berkeley (2017) and West Hollywood (2013) – passed similar legislation, paving the way for a state-wide ban. In 2021, Israel became the first country to ban fur sales.

Facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide. The vast majority (around 95%) of these spend their entire lives confined in small, barren cages unable to act out their most basic behaviours such as running, digging and, in the case of mink, swimming.
  • The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming and 18 other European countries have now followed suit, including Ireland, France, Italy and most recently in September 2022, Latvia.
  • California’s ban applies to brick-and-mortar stores selling new fur products as well as online sales of fur products into the state.
  • In addition to California, similar bans have also passed in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood, and the towns of Brookline, Weston, Wellesley, Cambridge and Plymouth in Massachusetts, Ann Arbor in Michigan, Boulder in Colorado and Hallandale Beach in Florida.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens: 07590 559299; sivens@hsi.org

Animal protection charity announces new executive director, as current HSI/UK head Claire Bass steps into a newly created senior position

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

LONDON—Animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK has today announced that it has appointed Nick Jones as its new executive director. The move will help HSI to develop and deliver even greater change for animals, both in the UK and around the world.

Jones has a wealth of expertise in charity management and strategic growth, having previously held several senior positions in UK nonprofits including Save the Children and, most recently, as managing director of fundraising, communications and policy at Action for Children. He is also an independent member of the Standards Committee of the Fundraising Regulator of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Too many animals are subjected to cruelty and abuse and I’m inspired by HSI’s work to save lives and improve laws to protect animals,” said Jones. “I am very proud to be joining the HSI team and excited to be part of its mission to end animal suffering in the UK and across the world.”

Claire Bass, who has been executive director of Humane Society International/UK since she joined the organisation in 2014, is stepping into the newly created role of senior director of campaigns and public affairs. Throughout her tenure as executive director, Bass led the organisation to many important victories for animals. In her new position, Bass will continue to increase HSI/UK’s impact, securing more critical campaign successes and furthering legislative animal protection progress.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior specialist in media and communications for HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org; (+44) 7590 559299

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Call to support the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill at its second reading on 25th November

Dr. Khan and HSI/UK team up for new short documentary on why a UK hunting trophy import ban is crucial, ahead of key political debate

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI

LONDON—Animal advocate and much-loved TV regular Dr. Amir Khan has joined with animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK to front a short film exposing the cruelty of the trophy hunting industry. In the film, Khan explains why the UK’s proposed ban on hunting trophy imports—due to be debated by MPs in Parliament next Friday, 25 November—is a vital step towards protecting threatened and endangered species. Alongside Dr. Khan, some of Africa’s most prominent wildlife advocates also speak out in HSI/UK’s film, namely Josphat Ngonyo, executive director of the Africa Network for Animal Welfare, and Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, founder of Advocates4Earth, a Zimbabwe-based environmental organisation.

Around the world, tens of thousands of animals every year are killed by hunters who pay thousands of dollars purely to kill for their own pleasure, often taking photos alongside the dead bodies of the animals they’ve shot and then cutting off their body parts to bring home as souvenirs. In recent years, UK hunters have imported trophies from some of the world’s rarest species, including polar bears, rhinos, African elephants and leopards. A 2021 YouGov poll showed that the overwhelming majority— 82% —of the British public supports a ban on the import of hunting trophies, and the issue is set to be debated in the House of Commons on 25 November during the Second Reading of Henry Smith MP’s Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill.

Arthur Thomas, public affairs manager at Humane Society International/UK, said: “Dr. Khan’s film with HSI/UK debunks the trophy hunting industry’s absurd claim that it means to protect the very animals it delights in killing, and shines a light on the corruption, greed and self-interest that really drive this cruel and archaic practice. Rather than aiding conservation, trophy hunting threatens endangered species; rather than alleviating poverty, it reinforces colonial power imbalances; and rather than protecting habitats, it cherry picks the most valuable species and leaves areas abandoned when they are no longer profitable. With Parliament about to debate this vital Bill, we hope that Dr. Khan’s film will help MPs see through the trophy hunting industry’s spin, and ensure that people who kill wild animals for kicks can no longer bring their grotesque souvenirs back to Britain.”

Since trophy hunting rose to prominence in the colonial era, there have been catastrophic declines in populations of some of the world’s most iconic species, including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes. Many of these species are under increasing pressure from human-induced mortalities, including from loss of habitat, climate breakdown, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.

Dr. Amir Khan said: “Like the majority of the British public, I find the concept of trophy hunting—the killing of animals for fun, especially species which are rare or endangered—disgusting. Seeing images of hunters posing with an animal they have just killed makes my blood boil. We cannot continue to support an industry that profits from the death of rare animals and exploits the natural world for short-term gain. That’s why HSI/UK and I are calling on the UK Government to ban the import of hunting trophies and end its involvement in this outdated practice.”

Countless scientific studies over the years have evidenced that trophy hunting damages conservation efforts and fails to provide meaningful support to local communities living alongside the targeted animals, debunking claims often made by the industry in attempts to greenwash its unfavourable image.

Africa Network for Animal Welfare’s executive director, Josphat Ngonyo, is featured in the video, stating: “I personally come from a community that has lived in a conservation area. Communities have come out very strongly everywhere to say no, [trophy hunting] doesn’t help.”

Speaking about HSI/UK’s campaign to ban hunting trophies from being imported into the UK, Advocates4Earth founder Lenin Tinashe Chisaira is seen in the video saying: “As an environmentalist based in the Global South, I really urge the government not to support trophy hunting.”

Humane Society International/UK is sharing the video with MPs, and urging people to contact their MP to ask them to attend the debate on 25th and speak in strong support of the ban.

Watch the video.

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Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior specialist in media and communications for HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org; (+44) 7590 559299

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


dog in leaves
LSOphoto/istock

Fireworks can be fun for some, but terrifying and dangerous for others. Here is our advice for keeping companion animals and wildlife calm and safe during Bonfire Night and other festivities often celebrated with firework displays, such as Diwali and New Year’s Eve.

Fireworks might bring some colour to dark winter nights, but they can pose a real danger to animals. Both domestic and wild animals can find the thunderous sounds and flashing lights overwhelming and terrifying.

Pets may be so scared of fireworks that they shake in fear or become extremely agitated. Some get so frightened by the noise that they run away from otherwise familiar environments, and can even get injured or lost. Others become so stressed that they sadly suffer devastating or even fatal health effects.

And it’s not only dogs and cats who we need to think about—wildlife is affected, too. The sudden bright flashes and sounds can disturb wild animals and cause them to run into roads, resulting in traffic accidents. Birds can get disorientated by the loud explosions, with research showing that fireworks can cause flocks of birds to take off for prolonged periods of time, expending crucial energy, and even fly so far out to sea that they are too exhausted to make the return flight. Additionally the debris from fireworks, containing toxic materials, can be mistakenly consumed by wildlife or even fed to their young.

Here are our top tips to keep animals safe when there are fireworks, from Bonfire Night to beyond:

Fireworks advice for dogs and cats

  • Walk dogs before dark, when it’s much less likely fireworks will be set off. It’s a good idea to keep them on-lead around dates such as Bonfire Night just in case.
  • Keep pets safely indoors with you, making sure the windows and doors of your house are securely shut. Block any exits that animals could escape through, such as cat flaps. At the same time, ensure that your cat or dog has access to safe hiding space in your home if they want to, such as under a table.
  • As well as closing windows, draw your curtains or blinds to reduce the lights and noise coming in from outside.
  • Background noise can help to mask the sound of fireworks. Keep the TV on or try some calm music.
  • Just like at all other times, dogs and cats should be wearing a collar and identification tag—even when they’re safely indoors. Some pets can become so scared during firework displays that they may take desperate measures to escape the noise, running outside when doors are briefly opened or even breaking through windows. You should also make sure your pet is microchipped and that the contact information on the chip is up to date.
  • If needed, speak to your vet about medications that might help to reduce your pets’ anxiety. Calming jackets for cats and dogs, which provide a gentle pressure to alleviate stress, are also available.

Fireworks advice for small mammals such as rabbits and guinea pigs

  • Bring any outdoor hutches inside for nights when fireworks are happening in your areas, and keep them in a quiet room with the windows and curtains shut.
  • Provide extra bedding for pets to burrow in, to help them feel safe and secure.

Keeping wildlife and other animals safe on Bonfire Night

  • Care should be taken not to let off fireworks near farmed animals or horses, as this may cause them to panic.
  • If you have horses, check if there’s going to be any firework displays in your area and get in contact with the organisers to ask if they can set off the fireworks well away from where horses are kept, or to consider using low noise fireworks. Stay with your horse if you think fireworks are going to be let off nearby, and talk to your vet for advice in advance.
  • Carefully check bonfires for wild animals such as hedgehogs before lighting them.

Take action to reduce the bangs

We agree with the RSPCA that tighter regulations are needed to restrict firework use, in order to reduce the number of bangs and unpredictability of when they occur. The Scottish government has already brought in extra controls and we urge other UK governments to follow their lead by:

  • Introducing a licensing scheme for the purchase of fireworks, which would reduce sales and ensure that people buying and using fireworks are appropriately trained, preventing injuries to both people and animals.
  • Shortening the period in which fireworks can be legally sold around Bonfire night. At present they can be sold from mid-October to mid-November, meaning weeks of unpredictably timed private displays. We’d like to see the sale window shortened to only one week before Bonfire night, similar to the shorter sale windows for New Year’s Eve and Diwali.
  • The current legal noise limit for fireworks sold to the public is 120 decibels, a similar level to a plane taking off! We’d like to see this reduced to 90 dB.

You can show your support for tighter controls on fireworks by:

  • Contacting your MP to let them know you are concerned about the animal welfare impacts of overly liberal firework laws, and signing government e-petitions to help get the issue debated in Parliament.
  • Asking your local officials to use low noise fireworks for public displays, or even to try out a different type of celebration. Light displays using drones or lasers are a more eco-friendly alternative to fireworks.

Frasers Group—including House of Fraser, FLANNELS and Sports Direct—announces commitment to stop purchasing fur

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Jillian Cooper/iStock.com 

LONDON­—Frasers Group, owner of House of Fraser department stores, as well as luxury retail chain Flannels and retail brands including Sports Direct, has announced it has immediately informed its suppliers it will stop purchasing fur products, a move that will take effect on shop shelves this coming season (Autumn/Winter 2023). The commitment was announced by Frasers Group Chief Executive Michael Murray at the company’s annual general meeting on 19 October, and follows discussions with animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK.

Announcing what it describes as its “long-term commitment” away from fur, the Group will work with HSI/UK to phase out as soon as possible its existing inventory of garments containing fur. It also pledged further updates on progress towards a date from which consumers can be assured Frasers Group’s stores will be free of fur. Frasers Group has over 1,500 stores globally, including fashion retailers such as FLANNELS, House of Fraser, Sports Direct, Cruise and 18 Montrose.

Humane Society International/UK, which worked with Frasers Group bosses to announce the policy, attended the meeting to hear the announcement to shareholders. Claire Bass, HSI/UK’s executive director, said: “We are pleased to have been able to work alongside Frasers Group and applaud it for taking the important decision to stop purchasing fur. By making this commitment to a fur-free future, Frasers Group are showing that it is a company in tune with the vast majority of the British public who believe that animals should not suffer in the name of fashion. Frasers Group’s decision is another critical milestone in the fur-free revolution underway in the UK, and brings us another big step closer to a Fur Free Britain. We look forward to continuing to work with the company to set an end date for its inventory phase out period, to enable consumers to be confident of when Frasers Group will be fully fur-free.” 

Frasers Group is the latest in a long line of luxury retailers and international designers that have turned their backs on fur in recent years, including Farfetch, Net-a-Porter, Canada Goose, Burberry, Chanel, Gucci and Prada. The announcement signifies the accelerating decline of the fur trade and adds further pressure to the few remaining fashion brands that continue to sell fur to follow suit.

Answering a question put by Bass at the meeting, Murray commented: “Frasers Group is committed to a future without fur. The Group’s intention is to stop purchasing fur products from its partners starting with orders for the coming season. The business will be issuing letters to all of its suppliers requesting no fur products are supplied to the Group.”

Group Board Chair David Daly thanked HSI/UK at the meeting for its support in helping the company reach this decision.

Humane Society International/UK works to end the fur trade globally and leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur imports and sales ban. National opinion polling carried out in April 2022 revealed that 77% of Britons think the government should ban the import of products, such as fur, where production methods are banned in the UK. More than one million signatures have so far been amassed for the #FurFreeBritain petition calling on the UK to ban the sale of cruel animal fur.

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide. The vast majority (around 95%) spend their entire lives confined in small, barren cages unable to act out their most basic behaviours such as running, digging and, in the case of mink, swimming.
  • Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2003, however almost £1 billion of fur has been imported into the country since then, from countries including China, Finland and Poland.
  • The UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming and 18 other European countries have now followed suit, including Ireland, France, Italy and most recently in September 2022, Latvia.

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ENDS

Media contact: Sally Ivens: sivens@hsi.org

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