Britain's biggest celebrities and animal protection groups join forces to urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ban the sale of fur

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Prime Minister Boris Johnson has received a letter signed by 50 of Britain’s biggest stars, including Dame Judi Dench, Brian May CBE, Leona Lewis, Gary Lineker OBE, James Arthur, Thandie Newton OBE, Alesha Dixon, Ricky Gervais, Mollie King and Dame Twiggy Lawson, urging him to implement a UK ban on the sale of real animal fur. Animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign in collaboration with other animal charities, is hopeful that a 2021 ban is possible now that the Brexit transition is completed.

Fur farming was banned in Britain almost two decades ago in 2003 as it was deemed too cruel. But since then Britain has imported more than £800 million worth of fur from countries including Finland, China, France and Poland, where animals experience severe suffering and distress on fur farms. This is a double standard that needs to end.

The letter which is also signed by Amanda Holden, Simon Pegg, Joanna Lumley OBE, Laura Whitmore, Natalie Imbruglia, Sir Mark Rylance, Imelda Staunton CBE, Deborah Meaden and Shirlie and Martin Kemp, reads: “As long as Britain allows the sale of cruel fur from overseas, we remain complicit in an industry that causes immense animal suffering, environmental harm, and also presents risks to human health through the spread of deadly viruses. It is not enough to say that we have banned fur cruelty from our own back yard, we must stop outsourcing that same cruelty from overseas

Read the letter in full here.

The following celebrities have added their names as signatories: Alesha Dixon, Amanda Holden, Amy Jackson, Anna Chancellor, Brian May CBE, Chris Packham CBE, Deborah Meaden, Evanna Lynch, Fearne Cotton, Gabrielle Aplin, Gaby Roslin, Gail Porter, Gary, Lineker OBE, Imelda Staunton CBE, James Arthur, Jasmine Harman, Jilly Cooper CBE, Joanna Lumley OBE, FRGS, Jon Richardson, Johnny Marr, Dame Judi Dench CH DBE FRSA, Laura Whitmore, Leona Lewis, Lily Cole, Lucy Watson, Sir Mark Rylance, Martin Kemp, Megan McCubbin, Mollie King, Natalie Imbruglia, Nicholas Hoult, Paul O’Grady MBE, Pete Wicks, Peter Egan, Rafferty Law, Ricky Gervais, Rula Lenska, Rumer, Sadie Frost, Scarlett, Moffatt, Shirlie Kemp, Sian Clifford, Simon Pegg, Sue Perkins, Thandie Newton OBE, Tiffany Watson, Tracy Edwards MBE, Dame Twiggy Lawson DBE, Victoria Summer and Will Poulter.

The stars have signed the open letter in support of the #FurFreeBritain campaign run by animal charities Humane Society International/UK, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (UK), FOUR PAWS UK, Open Cages, RSPCA, Animal Aid, Viva! And Brian May’s Save Me Trust.

Last autumn, Defra Minister Lord Goldsmith stated that “Fur farming has rightly been banned in this country for nearly 20 years and at the end of the transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise our standards still further. That is something the Government is very keen to do.” The campaign has also received cross party political support from 140 MPs who have signed Early Day Motion 267 against real fur imports.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Fur is cruel and unnecessary, and a fur sales ban would command support from the vast majority of the public, politicians, designers and retailers. This letter from some of the country’s top celebrities proudly backing a ban on fur cruelty sends a clear message to Boris Johnson that Britain must no longer be an accomplice in the suffering of millions of animals for frivolous fur fashion. When the selling stops, the suffering will too.

Singer and songwriter Alesha Dixon says, “Britain’s decision two decades ago to ban cruel fur farming, has been an inspiration to numerous other countries that have followed our compassionate lead. But for as long as we allow fur to be sold in UK shops from animals who have suffered overseas, the UK is still responsible for fur cruelty. So now it’s time for us to show world leadership once again by banning fur sales. Britain’s got compassion, and with a fur sales ban we have the power to stop animals suffering for fashion.”

Comedian, actor and director Ricky Gervais says, “Banning the sale of fur in the UK doesn’t even require debate, it’s a no brainer. Should the UK be selling fur from animals who have been anally electrocuted, gassed to death, beaten to death, and may even have had COVID-19? No it shouldn’t, let’s get the ban done.”

Elisa Allen, director, Peta UK says, “The overwhelming majority of British people oppose the fur trade, in which animals are gassed, electrocuted, and even skinned alive. We’re calling on the government to seize this opportunity to take a stand against needless cruelty and be a world leader by creating a fur-free Britain.”

Hannah Baker, FOUR PAWS UK head of communications, says, “The UK public has repeatedly spoken out about their detestation of the fur industry. Today with the added weight of over 50 celebrities we are once again calling for an end to this cruel trade in which animals unnecessarily suffer, all in the name of so-called fashion. The Government cannot continue to ignore the calls for us to finally put animal welfare first and embrace more compassion in fashion by becoming a fur-free Britain.”

Heidi Allen, RSPCA director of advocacy and policy, says, “As a compassionate nation of animal lovers, we know it isn’t enough to simply ban fur farming at home. If we want to continue leading the way, then we must also say “no” to any activity connected with this barbaric, cruel and inhumane use of animals. The RSPCA is therefore proud to add its name to this campaign to end the sale of fur in Britain. Not only is it the right thing to do, it would also demonstrate our global and moral leadership as we strive towards a world totally free of fur farming“.

The British public can support the campaign by signing the petition at www.furfreebritain.uk

 Fur Facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and rabbit – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, France committed to phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government just announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Legislators in Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts have introduced fur sales ban proposals. A bill introduced in Washington would ban the production of fur.
  • A 2020 YouGov opinion poll also revealed that 93% of the British population reject wearing real animal fur, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK.
  • Mink on more than 400 mink fur farms across 11 countries have been found infected with COVID-19, leading to mass culls. The potential for zoonotic disease spread, and for mink fur farms in particular to act as reservoirs for coronaviruses, incubating pathogens transmissible to humans, is another compelling reason for governments around the world to call time on fur, by banning farming and sales.

 ENDS

 Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, e Lroode@hsi.org  t +27 713601104

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


This method of culling is inhumane and should be banned immediately.

Humane Society International urges Sweden to permanently ban fur farming to protect people and animals

Humane Society International


Mark Hicken, Alamy Stock photo

LONDON—The Swedish government has today announced it will  suspend mink fur farming throughout 2021, in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 virus having been found on 13 mink farms in Sweden so far. Sweden has approximately 40 mink fur farms and produced around 500,000 mink pelts in 2020.

Humane Society International, which campaigns globally for an end to the fur trade, welcomes the news but urges the Swedish government to permanently end the cruelty and public health risks by permanently ending fur farming. Thus far the government has said breeding mink will not be culled. In December, HSI published a white paper highlighting the link between fur farming, poor animal welfare and infectious zoonotic disease.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “While we applaud the Swedish government for taking the decision to suspend mink farming, we urge it to go further and permanently shut down this cruel and dangerous industry. Confining millions of animals to small wire cages for fur production not only causes terrible suffering and deprivation, but scientists have also concluded that they could represent a serious reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 and thus pose a very real risk to public health. The Swedish authorities have also recognised that the biosecurity measures taken so far have proved insufficient. We call on all Member States where fur farming persists to shut down this sector for good. For as long as the exploitation of animals for fur is tolerated, the potential for reservoirs of animal to human pathogens will persist. Sweden has taken an important step but must now prioritise human and animal welfare over the frivolous fur fashion industry by permanently making fur history.” 

Fur Facts:

  • An estimated 53 million mink are farmed for their fur in more than 20 countries around the world, with the top three production countries in Europe in 2018 were Denmark (17.6 million mink), Poland (5 million mink) and the Netherlands (4.5million mink). China farmed 11.6 million mink for their fur in 2019, a sharp decrease from 20.6 million mink in 2018.
  • Eight EU Member States have officially identified COVID-19 positive animals on mink farms: Denmark (290 farms), France (1 farm), Greece (21 farms), Italy (1 farm), Lithuania (2 farms), Netherlands (70 farms), Spain (3 farms), Sweden (13 farms). COVID-19 has also been confirmed on mink fur farms in the United States and Canada.
  • Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited and/or is in the process of being phased-out in numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals including mink and foxes, France committed to a phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to end fur farming.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government recently announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, legislators in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced fur sales ban proposals. The town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, passed a fur sales ban last year.

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and campaigns manager HSI/UK, LRoode@hsi.org, +27(0)713601104

Dobbies share decision to stop selling lethal or inhumane rodent control products.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Brown rat
Colin Varndell/Alamy

LONDON–A secret shopper investigation by animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK has found that some of Britain’s biggest DIY stores and home and garden centres, including B&Q, Homebase, Wilko, Wickes and The Range, are promoting inhumane and dangerous poison ‘pest control’ products to customers dealing with mice and rats, rather than prioritising effective non-lethal deterrents. HSI/UK’s researcher found that staff in 27 out of the 30 stores visited advised the use of lethal poisons, predominantly anticoagulant rodenticides which the Health and Safety Executive describes as ‘markedly inhumane’, as well as posing a health and safety risks to humans, pets and other wildlife. Some staff also provided misleading information on the extent to which the animals would suffer, such as ‘it just goes to sleep, probably’.

Stores selling the highest proportion of poisons in their ‘pest control’ ranges were Wickes (83% of mouse control products) and Dobbies (68% of rat control products). Such heavy emphasis on the sale of inhumane poisons conflicts with public opinion; a new YouGov poll, commissioned by HSI/UK, reveals that when asked to choose from a list of Do-It-Yourself products to control rats and mice in their home or garden, the British public’s top choice were no-kill deterrent and repellent products (43%), followed by non-lethal exclusion products to prevent animals from entering their property (38%). By contrast only a quarter (25%) stated that their preferred choice would be a poison.”

Several stores have responded positively to the report, with retailers like Wickes deciding to introduce humane options into their pest control product range and Notcutts retraining their staff to advise customers on safe and humane methods of managing rodent problems. Dobbies told HSI/UK that it had already decided to remove all lethal or inhumane products from sale, prior to receiving the report.

According to the Health and Safety Executive’s UK Authorised Rodenticide Product Database, anticoagulant poisons make up 93% of all rodenticide products authorised in the UK for sale to non-professionals. They kill animals by causing internal and/or external bleeding in the gut, tissues, body cavities, joints and the skull. After ingesting anticoagulant poison, animals can suffer severe abdominal and muscle pain, weakness, lameness and breathing difficulties for up to 48 hours prior to death. After ingesting a lethal dose, rats typically take between three and nine days to die, and animals ingesting a lower dose can endure this suffering for even longer.

Despite this disturbing level of suffering, HSI/UK’s investigation found that for all the stores visited, lethal products on sale far outweighed non-lethal options, and a worrying number of staff incorrectly advised the customer that anticoagulant poison would cause little or no animal suffering. Staff at Dobbies in Bury St Edmund suggested it would cause “just a stomach ache” while the retailer’s Royston staff advised the mouse “goes to sleep, probably.” At Wilko in Fulham, London the secret shopper was told, “I don’t know what it does to them exactly… I think it would just shut down their nervous system first so that they are not in pain, and then kill them gradually.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said “Despite rodent poisons causing immense animal suffering, our secret shopping reveals that the nation’s biggest DIY and garden stores are stacked high with these products, and they are too-often recommended by staff without any mention of the dangers. Brits want safe, effective and humane ways of dealing with unwanted rodent visitors, but the default advice is typically to immediately resort to lethal poisons, and often with woefully misleading information about animal suffering. As well as being inhumane, poisons are not a sustainable solution because unless the root cause of rodent visitors is addressed, such as easy access to food and shelter, others will simply return once the poison is taken away. We are encouraged by those stores that have signalled intent to review their product ranges, and retrain staff to stop recommending shoppers reach for poisons as the first defence, instead prioritising humane and effective deterrent strategies and products. We’re also urging the Health and Safety Executive to bring in tighter controls to tackle the casual and excessive availability of dangerous poisons for DIY rodent control.”

*Note: The secret store visits occurred before pandemic lockdowns were implemented and were in full compliance with the UK restrictions in place at the time of the visits.

Summary of investigation findings:

  • Around one in every three mouse control products offered at the stores visited was a poison.
  • At Wickes, as much as 83% of DIY mouse control products offered were lethal poison.
  • At least two in every five rat control products offered at the stores were poisons.
  • At Dobbies Garden Centres, over 68% of all DIY rat control products consisted of poisons.
  • At Wickes 100%, and at Wilko and Dobbies over 90% of all DIY rat and mouse control products stocked were designed to kill the animal.
  • Notcutts performed best in providing effective and humane advice on how to deal with unwanted wildlife, whereas B&Q and Wilko ranked lowest.
  • Staff at several stores openly admitted to a lack of knowledge on how to use the products and what course of action to take.

Highly toxic poisons can also present a risk to the health and safety of children, pets and other wildlife. Every year in the UK, wild species including foxes, badgers, shrews, barn owls, buzzards, kestrels and red kites, suffer and die after coming into contact with a rodenticide or eating poisoned rodents. In fact, to avoid the risk of accidental and secondary poisoning, professional rodent exterminators are advised to use rodenticides only as a last resort when other methods have failed. Yet staff at 18 of the 30 stores recommended using poisons as the primary course of treatment. Of the 27 stores where staff recommended a poison, 25 failed to advise that a bait station (a protective box to prevent other animals or children accessing the poison) must be used.

HSI contacted all stores investigated to provide them with the findings. In response to HSI/UK’s report, Notcutts said, “We have re-briefed all our colleagues on the sale of rodent control products reminding them to advise customers to first seek to prevent rodents entering the area by blocking entry points, removing the food source or using sonic repellents.  The range of products available would then be discussed with the humane non-lethal products recommended including the catch, trap and release options that we have available, with the bait block stations as the last resort.” Dobbies, the UK’s largest garden centre, shared its decision to no longer sell any lethal or inhumane products. Graeme Jenkins CEO of Dobbies said, “Prior to receiving the report we made the decision to remove lethal or inhumane products from our stores and website. These products have been delisted and we will not bring in any new stock.”

David Ramsden MBE, Head of Conservation at the Barn Owl Trust said: “This new report represents a truly shocking and damning indictment of a system whereby leading UK retailers can legally sell highly toxic poisons to untrained people for uncontrolled use. It points to serious flaws, not only in the advice given to purchasers of rodent control products, but also the inadequacy of regulations imposed by our Health and Safety Executive which is supposed to be the UKs ‘Competent Authority’ on wildlife-killing chemicals. Unfortunately, even the industry-wide ‘Stewardship Regime’ has so-far failed to reduce the widespread contamination of our precious wildlife. A staggering 87% of wild Barn Owls in the UK contain rat poison.”

HSI advocates for an ethical approach to wildlife management, addressing the root cause of problems through human behaviour change, and ensuring that wildlife control measures are humane, with lethal interventions used only as a last resort to protect public health and safety. HSI’s report has been sent to the Health and Safety Executive calling on it to prohibit the use of anticoagulant poisons by untrained members of the public, and impose stricter requirements for amateur ‘pest control’ product suppliers.

Read the report on the danger of DIY pest control

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, Lroode@hsi.org  +27 713601104

Rescuers said some dogs were so skinny they feared their bones might break when they held them

Humane Society International / South Korea


Nara Kim/HSI Closure of dog meat and puppy mill farm in South Korea, led by Korean group LIFE with assistance from HSI/Korea Dec 2020.

LONDON—Around 100 dogs in a shocking state of neglect have been rescued from an illegal dog farm in Gimpo, South Korea. Local Korean animal group, LIFE, with assistance from Humane Society International/Korea and regional officials, found poodles, Jindos, Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Spitz, Schnauzers and more caged in deplorable conditions on a junk yard farm where they had been bred and sold for both the pet trade and the dog meat trade.

Many of the dogs were suffering from severe malnutrition as well as painful skin diseases due to living in their own faeces. Many were found huddled next to the lifeless bodies of their dead cage mates who had apparently starved to death, while others appeared to have resorted to cannibalism simply to survive, their bowls left empty by the farmer who said he wasn’t making enough profit to feed them. More dead dogs were found stored in a disused freezer on the property.

Korean group, LIFE, negotiated with the farmer to permanently close his farm. The land will be redeveloped by the authorities now that the illegal dog farm has been shut down. Humane Society International/Korea, which has closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country, provided assistance to LIFE on the rescue day and is also helping them by providing shelter and emergency veterinary care for 40 of the dogs. The remaining dogs are being cared for by LIFE.

In-Seob Sim, president of LIFE, says: “This is a really shocking example of a common problem here in South Korea, where dogs are bred in the worst conditions to maximize profits. It’s time for South Korean society to impose controls on the breeding of dogs for sale. If we don’t find a solution, this kind of animal suffering will continue. Koreans who are upset to see the terrible suffering of these dogs, need to realise that it is society’s demand for pet shop puppies and dog meat that drives this kind of cruelty. If we can change our behaviour, we can change the fate of these dogs.”

The farmer had been illegally squatting on government land for more than 10 years, and even applied for compensation when the Gimpo city government announced the land was being seized for redevelopment. In the hope of getting more compensation, the farmer bred more dogs even though he couldn’t afford to feed them. Gyeonggi province officials are now investigating the farmer with a view to bringing animal cruelty and other charges.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s campaign manager, says “When I first visited the dog farm, it was too shocking to take in what I was seeing. I have rescued thousands of dogs from many dog meat farms in South Korea, but this place was like hell. Many of the dogs were just skin and bones, and it was hard to find any ‘normal’ looking dogs because their bodies were so ravaged by starvation and skin disease. I was so afraid their fragile bones might break when I lifted them out of their cages, so I was just really slow and gentle. Hardly any of them had the energy to struggle anyway. We got there just in time for some, I don’t think they could have survived another day. I’m so happy that LIFE asked us to be a part of this rescue, it was such a relief to get these dogs out of that horrible place.”

Once the dogs in HSI/Korea’s care are well enough to travel, they will be flown to North America to look for forever families. LIFE is grateful to the Seoul Veterinary Medical Association, Gyeonggi Veterinary Medical Association, Petdoc Korea, Harim Pet food and the ESAC Training Centre for their generous support for this rescue.

Download photos and video of this rescue.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media: whiggins@hsi.org

HSI/UK advises Brits to be fake faux fur detectives this Christmas, questioning items described as cruelty-free and vegan

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI Fluffy slippers sold as faux fur on eBay but purchased and lab tested by HSI/UK in Dec 2020 to prove it is in fact made with real fur.

LONDON—Online retailers are still misleading British consumers into buying real fur wrongly advertised as faux fur, an investigation by Humane Society International/UK has found. HSI/UK found fake faux fur on sale at popular shopping sites including Amazon, eBay, Romwe and Shein, misleadingly marketed as faux fur but which laboratory tests and HSI experts confirmed as real fur.  COVID-19 restrictions mean that more people are choosing to shop online, but this means they can’t touch or properly scrutinise items before buying, and are entirely reliant on retailer descriptions. HSI/UK, which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, warns shoppers to be extra vigilant when purchasing items that look like fur, even when they are marketed as “cruelty-free and vegan”.

Most Brits don’t want to buy or wear real fur. A YouGov opinion poll commissioned by HSI/UK shows that 93% of the British public reject wearing real animal fur, and the words people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’. Despite this, for the sixth consecutive year HSI/UK secret shoppers have exposed real fur being sold as faux fur at trusted retailers.

For example, laboratory tests confirmed that a £13.99 beanie hat purchased from Amazon UK with a “man-made faux fur” pom was real fur; eBay sold a pair of £16.99 “faux fur fluffy sliders” that also turned out to be real fur; fashion site Romwe marketed a real mink fur bag charm for £2.50 as “100% faux fur” and an £88 “faux fur hooded coat” made with real fur, most likely fox or raccoon dog. Shein, one of the world’s largest e-fashion stores targeting Generation Z shoppers, was found selling a £2.49 “faux fur” keychain that laboratory tests confirmed was real mink fur, as well as Christmas “faux fur” pom earrings for £2.49 and a flamingo motif sweatshirt with “faux fur” detail for £10.99, both of which were real fur.

Other online retailers misleading customers were Just Your Outfit selling a £15 diamante “faux fur pom” hat that was even labelled as real fur when it arrived in the post; Danielli selling £10 “faux fur trimmed” gloves that were actually real fur, most likely rabbit; and Boho Styles selling sliders marketed as “made of voluminous vegan faux fur & 100% cruelty free” which laboratory tests confirmed were in fact real fox fur.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, says: “Fur is cruel which is why most Brits don’t want to buy it. So it’s really concerning that yet again we’ve found popular online shopping websites selling an alarming number of products described as faux fur which have turned out to be trimmed with real fur from fox, mink, raccoon dog and rabbit. We’ve exposed this problem for years and in 2018 a Parliamentary inquiry was held to hold companies to account; we’ve even had the Advertising Standards Authority and Trading Standards issue warnings to companies. Even so, our latest findings show that the ‘fake faux fur’ scandal continues, meaning would-be ethical shoppers can’t shop online with confidence that they can avoid inadvertently buying real fur.

 “Several well-known retailers are repeat offenders on this issue, so it’s especially disappointing that they haven’t cleaned up their act. Clearly a greater deterrent is needed to stop British consumers being missold cruel fur. Fur farming is rightly banned in the UK, but for as long as animal fur from overseas is allowed to be sold here, we remain complicit in the suffering, creating a minefield for shoppers who wholeheartedly reject that cruelty. We urge the government to bring forward plans to implement a fur sales ban in the UK so that British consumers can trust that their ethical purchasing decisions are not in vain.”

Unsuspecting e-shoppers are particularly vulnerable to misleading marketing when items are described as “faux fur” or synthetic material such as acrylic, and come with relatively cheap price tags. While many consumers wrongly assume a cheap price tag indicates faux fur, the tragic truth is that conditions on fur farms are so poor with animals often having to endure appalling deprivation, that real animal fur can be produced as cheaply as, or even more cheaply than, faux fur.

Retailers have a responsibility, under the 2008 Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, not to mislead their customers in the sale of animal/fake fur. However, despite HSI/UK instigating numerous complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority  and Trading Standards, it appears that the penalties are too weak to act as a deterrent to stop some retailers misleading shoppers into buying a product that most would actively avoid. HSI/UK believes the only way to prevent real fur sneaking into British closets, is for the UK government to implement a ban on the sale of fur. Closing British borders to the cruel and unnecessary fur trade would significantly reduce the risk of real fur being sold as fake, and appropriate penalties to enforce the law would emphasise to retailers the importance of verifying that overseas suppliers provide them only with faux fur.

Fur Facts:

  • HSI/UK has been exposing the sale of fake faux fur for many years. Retailers previously implicated include: eBay, T.K. Maxx, Boohoo, Amazon, Romwe, Not On The High Street, House of Fraser, Missguided, ASOS and Forever 21. We have worked successfully with numerous retailers to assist them in training their retail and supply chain staff to ensure that no-fur policies are adhered to.
  • An estimated 60 million mink are farmed for their fur in 24 countries around the world, with the top three production countries China (20.6million mink), Denmark (17.6million mink) and Poland (5 million mink) in 2018.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased-out in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals for fur including mink and foxes, France committed to phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to end fur farming.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming, and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government just announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, legislators in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced fur sales ban proposals, as have cities in Minnesota and Massachusetts.

 ENDS

 Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager: Lroode@hsi.org; +27 713601104

Humane Society International


BRUSSELS—In the wake of COVID-19 outbreaks on mink farms throughout Europe—which have also laid bare the cruel conditions under which these animals are intensively confined—leading animal protection organisations today held an online conference to address the animal welfare and public health concerns associated with fur production. This event was organised in collaboration with the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals. Watch a recording of the conference.

Hosted by MEPs Anja Hazekamp (GUE/NGL), Niels Fuglsang (S&D) and Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg (Greens/EFA), this timely event brought together politicians and policymakers with prominent experts on animal welfare, veterinary epidemiology, NGOs and even a former fur industry insider to consider the animal welfare and disease risk problems related to exploiting fur-bearing species, such as mink and foxes, for their pelts. Recent footage from fur farm investigations was also screened to illustrate the inherent welfare problems involved in fur production.

Dutch MEP, Animal Welfare Intergroup President and Vice-Chair of the Parliament’s Environment Committee, Anja Hazekamp said:

“Confining wild animals in small wire cages for the trivial purpose of fur production should be consigned to the past. The horrific footage from Polish and Finnish fur farms, which we have seen at today’s meeting, are far from unique. We saw exactly the same kind of images of animal suffering on fur farms in the Netherlands over a quarter of a century ago when the political debate on banning fur production began. In the past days, the very last mink on Dutch farms were gassed to death and the cages stand empty after the industry phase-out was brought forward to eliminate potential coronavirus reservoirs. Fur farming is now over in my country. I look forward to the day when we can end the suffering of all animals on fur farms and see a completely fur-free Europe”

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, added:

“In the past months, the public has been confronted with the fact that fur farms are not only places of enormous animal suffering, but they can also act as virus factories. The living conditions on fur farms, which confine wild species at high densities and in close proximity, fail to satisfy the animals’ most basic welfare needs, leaving them highly stressed, which can lead to their immune systems being compromised. The outbreaks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on fur farms have confronted us with the terrifying reality that fur factory farms create ideal conditions for diseases to propagate from one animal to another, and for viruses to mutate into forms potentially virulent to humans. We don’t need frivolous fur fashion. And we certainly don’t need these unnecessary reservoirs for coronaviruses. More than ever, it is time to make fur history.”

Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals, noted:

“Given the urgency of the situation we believe it is high time for the Commission to show leadership and introduce measures to suspend fur farming across the EU. The potential risks of the SARS-CoV-2 virus further spreading and potentially mutating, pose serious threats across borders and require an EU approach. We trust that this proposal will be made at the forthcoming AgriFish Council meeting. In the longer term we believe the moment is ripe to phase out this sector once and for all. Several EU surveys have shown that the vast majority of EU citizens do not approve of fur farming and 11 EU countries have already banned or restricted this industry or are in the process of doing so. The pandemic has put the spotlight on the vulnerability of fur farming which end is long overdue.”

Facts:

  • Eight EU Member States have officially identified COVID-19 positive animals on mink farms: Denmark (289 farms), France (1 farm), Greece (12 farms), Italy (1 farm), Lithuania (1 farm), Netherlands (70 farms), Spain (1 farm), Sweden (13 farms).
  • Researchers at the Medical University of Gdansk also found eight COVID-19 positive mink on a fur farm in Poland.
  • SARS-CoV-2 virus has also been found in mink on 16 US fur farms and one Canadian mink farm.
  • Mink-to-human transmission was first identified in the Netherlands through whole genome sequencing and has also been found in Denmark. The emergence of a new mink variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was detected in Denmark leading to fears that this COVID-19 mutation moving from mink to humans could jeopardise future vaccines. This variant had already been found in 12 people in northern Denmark.
  • On 4th November 2020, the findings of the State Serum Institute led to Danish government announcing the radical step of culling all mink on the remaining fur farms and a temporary ban on mink production in the country.
  • In 2013, the Netherlands adopted a ban on fur farming. The industry was due to be phased-out by 1st January 2024. However, the Dutch government forced an early shutdown of its mink industry due to continuing outbreaks of COVID-19 – despite the adoption of strict biosecurity measures and preventative culling of all affected mink herds – on its remaining fur farms.
  • The Irish Department of Agriculture recommended that farmed mink in Ireland should be culled and restocking prohibited on its remaining three fur farms. A ban on fur farming was already pending.
  • Fur farming has already been prohibited and/or is in the process of being phased-out in various EU Member States, such as Austria Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium.
  • Legislative proposals to ban fur farming are currently also under consideration, or have been announced, in 6 countries including Poland, Lithuania, France, Ireland, Bulgaria and Estonia.
  • In addition to these fur farming bans and industry phase-outs, Germany adopted stricter regulations, which have effectively eliminated the breeding of all animals for fur; Sweden similarly eliminated fox and chinchilla production in this way. Denmark has also prohibited and is phasing out the breeding of foxes on animal welfare grounds.
  • Hungary has also just announced a ban on mink, fox, ferret and coypu production as a precautionary measure due to animal welfare and COVID-19 concerns to prevent fur producers from moving their operations there.

Watch video of the conference.

Read the white paper on Fur Farming, COVID-19 and Zoonotic Disease Risks.

ENDS 

Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org 

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


A is for Accountable: The McCartney A to Z Manifesto: Spring 2021 Collection is a guiding alphabet of the values and vision of iconic British designer Stella McCartney. A is for accountable—personified by the Adrienne coat, made from repurposed #FurFreeFur, and an original piece by American artist Rashid Johnson titled ‘Accountability’. Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States are proud to work alongside Stella McCartney to strive for a fur free future, and we are delighted to profile the first letter of the A to Z Manifesto that so encapsulates our shared values.

A statement from Stella McCartney:

“A is for Accountablesomething Humane Society International, the HSUS and Stella McCartney have very much in common, and that we both strive towards in our day-to-day work. Being accountable in this day and age is so important, and is one of the goals of the McCartney A to Z Manifesto. It is a guiding alphabet of who we are and who we hope to be, and I hope that our commitment to the values and vision contained in it will not only keep my team accountable but also have a positive impact on the fashion industry as a whole. I am so proud to have worked closely with HSI and the HSUS for many years now, and hugely admire and support their ongoing commitment and endless campaign work towards helping to prohibit the sales of fur in the fashion industry, and therefore preventing the death of millions of innocent animals.

“At Stella McCartney, we have never used leather, feathers, fur or exotic skins in our collections and we do not believe that animals should die for the sake of fashion. It is incredible to see that over the past few years countless brands, designers, leading department stores and even states and countries have woken up to the unequivocal cruelty of the fur industry and have subsequently stopped using fur in their collections, in their stores or allowing fur to be manufactured in certain areas.

“Fur has no place in any compassionate society and today its use is unnecessary and inexcusable. Plainly, fur is immoral, cruel and barbaric.

“In addition to the overwhelming ethical reasons for banning the sale of fur, evidence and research proves that fur is completely unsustainable. The fur industry is quick in trying to defend this, by saying fur is natural and therefore sustainable but of course this is false and completely misleading. There are certainly environmental implications where faux fur is concerned, however it is now produced so well that there is no reason to wear real fur. We have been working very hard at Stella McCartney to innovate sustainable solutions like KOBA® Fur Free Furthe next generation of faux fur and the first commercially available faux fur using only bio-based ingredients, reducing energy use by up to 30 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 63 percent compared to conventional synthetics.

“I urge everyone reading this to spread the word, be accountable and hold brands accountable, not only when it comes to fur, but to protecting Mother Earth. We saw during our global moment of pause that nature can heal, which should give us hope for the futureour actions can make a difference, and the time to act is now. It has never been more important.”

Take Action: Act now to ban fur sales around the globe, starting with a #FurFreeBritain, at hsi.org/furfreebritain.

HSI calls for permanent closure of ‘virus factory’ fur farms

Humane Society International


Mark Hicken/Alamy A male mink at a fur farm. 

LONDON—Kopenhagen Fur, the world’s largest fur auction house, will close its doors within the next two to three years in what could signal the beginning of the end for the global fur trade. Much of the world’s fur is traded via a handful of auction houses. Founded in 1930, Kopenhagen Fur acts as a broker for pelts produced in Denmark and around the world, including fox, chinchilla and karakul. Just hours before the announcement, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published its new report Rapid Risk Assessment: Detection of new SARS-CoV-2 variants related to mink, highlighting concerns that the evolution of the virus in mink has potential implications for COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and vaccine development, and could undermine the effectiveness of future vaccines in humans.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe said “The ECDC risk report and the announcement by Kopenhagen Fur that it will cease trading could very well signal the beginning of the end of the worldwide fur trade. Fur farms are not only the cause of immense and unnecessary animal suffering, but they are also ticking time bombs for deadly diseases, potential virus factories capable of churning out mutations of COVID-19 and even undermining medical progress towards reliable treatments. This report should be a serious wake-up call for mink farming countries that are not yet systematically testing mink, to take urgent action.

Set against a backdrop of public rejection of fur as unethical and outdated, fur farming nations can no longer justify allowing an industry that both threatens human health and costs tax-payers billions to manage biosecurity risks and provide farmers compensation following culls. We cannot simply wait for the next pandemic to emerge. Governments must end the cruel and risky fur trade for good and focus instead on supporting fur farmers asthey move to humane, safe and economically viable livelihoods. There was never going to be a happy ending for the 60 million mink exploited for fur annually, but stopping breeding them altogether would be the best way to prevent animals suffering in the future for the fickle whims of fashion.” 

The Kopenhagen Fur auction house is a cooperative company owned by 1,500 Danish fur farmers. The disappearance of this globally important fur broker is likely to have a knock-on effect for producers in other European countries and beyond. The sale of 24.8 million mink skins were brokered through Kopenhagen Fur 2018-2019. During this time, the UK imported around £131,523 and £181,765 worth of fur from Denmark respectively—far less compared to over £ 200,000 worth of fur imported from Denmark in previous years.

We have witnessed a significant drop in pelt prices and have seen stockpiles of fur skins going unsold at auctions, sending the fur industry into a global downward spiral. We expect an even further decrease in the demand for frivolous fur as COVID-19 affects factory fur farms around the world, forcing governments to shut down operations and farmers to find new avenues of income.” said Dr. Swabe.

The ECDC report cites the need for ongoing investigations to assess whether the new ‘cluster 5’ variant, created by mink on farms, alters the risk of reinfection, or could cause reduced vaccine efficacy or reduced benefits from blood plasma treatments. It also stresses that ‘continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms may eventually give rise to other variants of concern’.

ECDC report key findings:

  • The overall level of risk to human health posed by SARS-CoV-2 mink-related variants is low for the general population, but moderate-to-high for medically vulnerable individuals living in areas with a high concentration of fur farms. The risk is moderate for those working with mink and very high for individuals with occupational exposure, such as fur farmers.
  • The national competent authorities must take a number of measures to decrease the risk to public health for those occupationally involved with mink and the communities where mink farms are situated, including systematic testing and sequencing of mink farm workers and nearby communities with immediate contact tracing, isolation and quarantine if human cases are related to a mink farm; infection prevention and control measures for mink farm workers and visitors; monitoring and surveillance of mink farms.

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK, media and campaigns manager: LRoode@hsi.org; +27 71 360 1104.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom