Humane Society International helps dog farmers leave the dying trade

Humane Society International / Korea (in South Korea)


Jean Chung for HSI

SEOUL—A new opinion poll in South Korea shows growing support for a ban on dog meat consumption, with 84% of those polled saying they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade. The poll, conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by Humane Society International/Korea, is released on the day HSI/Korea rescues 170 dogs from a dog meat farm in Haemi, to seek new homes in the United States and Canada.

Key poll findings include:

  • 84% of South Koreans haven’t consumed dog meat or say they are not willing to consume it in the future.
  • 59% of South Koreans support banning dog meat, an increase of 24% from 2017, with opposition to a ban at an all-time low (fewer than half (41%) of the population.
  • 57% of South Koreans believe dog meat consumption reflects poorly on Korea, increasing from 37% in 2017.

The 170 dogs rescued by HSI were kept in filthy cages on the dog meat farm until farmer Il-Hwan Kim asked HSI for help closing after 40 years in the dog meat business. This is the 17th dog farm permanently closed down by the animal protection group, and farmer Kim’s story is becoming increasingly familiar as the decline in popularity of dog meat in South Korea sees more farmers struggle to make a living. A further 26 dogs also headed to the United States to start a new life had been saved from the dog meat trade by HSI in previous rescue operations but had been unable to leave their South Korean temporary shelter until now due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. In total, HSI is taking 196 dog meat trade survivors out of South Korea on a single flight, including a poodle, Korean jindos and mastiffs, Pomeranians, terriers and a Labrador retriever.

Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the rescue effort saw HSI’s U.S. team quarantine for two weeks at a government-sanctioned hotel in Seoul before being allowed to head to the dog meat farm to rescue the dogs. As dog adoption is not yet widely accepted in South Korea, HSI’s Shelter and Rescue partners in the United States and Canada will take the dogs and start the process of matching them with forever families. HSI hopes that its work to raise awareness about the benefits of adoption and promotion of its adoption success stories overseas, will gradually lead to more dogs finding forever families within the country.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says: “Every dog meat farm I’ve visited has a horrible stench of faeces and rotting food, but there is something different about this dog farm, it smells of death. The conditions are truly pitiful, and when we found these dogs they had looks of utter despair on their faces that will haunt us forever. Many of them are covered in painful sores and wounds from neglect, some have inflamed eyes and peer out blindly from their cage. I feel grateful they can no longer see this horrible place they live in, and when they finally receive veterinary care and can open their eyes, they will never have to endure this hopelessness again.”

As the Nielsen/HSI poll shows, most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and a growing population see dogs only as companion animals. The suffering of dogs and the unsanitary conditions on meat farms has also received far greater visibility in South Korean media in recent times, with rescues by local Korean animal welfare groups and Humane Society International/Korea featured on prime time Korean TV, contributing to rising support for a ban on this cruel industry that keeps around 2 million dogs on thousands of farms in deprived conditions.

A study from the University of Glasgow published last year revealed that dogs on South Korean dog meat farms live with chronic cumulative stress, twice as high as pet dogs living in and around Seoul. Researchers examined levels of the stress hormone cortisol in dog hair samples, including from 63 dogs rescued from farms by Humane Society International. Cortisol is released into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands when the body perceives stress. In the short term this supports a “flight or fight” response, but when cortisol is elevated for long periods it can result in negative consequences including poor immune function, greater susceptibility to disease and decreased quality of life and welfare.

Nara Kim says: “More people in South Korea are interested in animal welfare and the environment, and so when they see footage of our dog farm closures on the news showing the animal suffering and filthy conditions, or read about dog meat exposés by other Korean groups, they are really shocked and upset. The inevitable drop in sales is leading more dog farmers to look for a way out, and right now HSI runs the only scheme in the country working in partnership with dog farmers to help them start a new life. But we hope in time the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”

Farmer Il-Hwan Kim says in the last 10 years business has been really bad. He says: “There is no future in dog meat at all, it’s already dying and will fall apart completely. And dog farming is physically hard and I’m getting old, so I want to get out. Forty years ago it was different, but now it’s over for dog farming. I might start work in construction, because I used to work in scaffolding and there are opportunities there.”

Facts: 

  • Dog meat is most popular during the Bok days of summer in July and August based on its perceived curative properties during the hot and humid summer months.
  • Recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry include the shutting down of Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest) by Seongnam City Council in November 2018, followed in July 2019 by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in Busan (South Korea’s second largest dog meat market after Moran market, which has also closed), and a declaration in October last year by the mayor of Seoul that the city is “dog slaughter free”. In November 2019 a Supreme Court found that a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs was in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on electrocution as a killing method.
  • HSI has rescued more than 2,000 dogs from 17 South Korean dog farms. The farmers sign a 20-year contract, stipulating they will not breed dogs or any animals again, and the cages are demolished to ensure that no animals will suffer on the property in future. HSI follows up regularly to ensure compliance among past farmers.
  • This farm closure was conducted under COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, including HSI’s U.S. team quarantining in a government-sanctioned hotel for 14 days before starting the rescue. At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”), at the time the dogs receive their rabies, DHPP and coronavirus vaccines. HSI also vaccinates the dogs for distemper and parvo. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a shelter for at least 30 days, and the dogs are health certified again prior to transport overseas.

Download b-roll video and photos of the rescue here

 ENDS

Media contact:

Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

Use of wild animals in traveling circuses and keeping and breeding of dolphins and killer whales in captivity also terminated.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Mark Hicken, Alamy Stock photo

LONDON—French minister Barbara Pompili has announced the end of mink fur farming in France. The country’s last four remaining fur farms will have to close no later than 2025, although campaigners at Humane Society International predict that their closure may come sooner. The announcement comes a month after an undercover investigation by French animal campaigners, One Voice, revealed shocking evidence of animal suffering on mink fur farms. The announcement also included many other sweeping animal welfare reforms adopted by the French government, such as ending the use of wild animals in traveling circuses and keeping and breeding dolphins and killer whales in captivity in marine parks.

According to Fur Europe (in 2018), France produced 100,000 mink skins on five farms, but recent public pressure against cruel fur farming practices has been a major driving force behind the ban. Latest opinion polls show that 77% of French citizens favour a ban on raising and slaughtering animals for their fur. More than half a million people in France have signed the referendum for the animals, which includes a ban on fur farms.

Although the mink fur farm ban does not impact France’s Orylag rabbit fur industry, it is nonetheless a significant sign of progress towards ending the trade. Orylag fur comes from genetically manipulated rabbits who are bred in deprived, factory farm style caging.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “We applaud the French government for taking a stand against the immense suffering endured by mink for fur fashion. The shocking scenes showing paralysed mink displaying signs of severe distress at France’s last remaining fur farms, were enough to make the world shudder. So it is commendable that Minister Pompili has listened to the public outcry that this kind of cruelty is unacceptable. This mink fur farm ban is a great first step for France, and with mink fur production at an all-time low in France we predict and hope that these farms may close sooner than the 2025 deadline.

In the meantime, we urge the French government to also end the equally inexcusable suffering of Orylag rabbits who are farmed for fur in terrible conditions, and we call on the UK government to advance a ban on fur sales as soon as is practicable after the EU transition. For as long as the UK remains open for business to sell fur from countries overseas such as France, we are complicit in this cruelty.”  

Across Europe, 13 countries have banned fur farming, Britain being the first to do so in 2003. One Voice has been urging the Ministry of Ecology since 2017 to publish a decree to shut down all mink operation in France. In support of their campaign, HSI/UK and other members of the Fur Free Alliance—an international coalition of more than fifty animal protection organisations—wrote a letter to the French Embassy asking for a ban.

Muriel Arnal, CEO of One Voice, said: “Finally, France has a mink fur farming ban. But alas it will not take effect for a long time compared to the mink fur farm ban just announced in the Netherlands. We will keep on fighting to close down these four farms before the deadline set by the ministry of Ecology.”

Fur facts:

  • 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.
  • A 2020 YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by HSI/UK, reveals 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. The poll also demonstrates Brits’ scathing view of fur – the words that people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.
  • Across Europe, mink fur farms have been affected by outbreaks of COVID-19. In the Netherlands, 56 mink fur farms so far have been infected with the coronavirus, and outbreaks have also been documented on fur farms in Spain and Denmark, as well as in the United States.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited 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, and most recently the government in Ireland has committed to ending fur farming.
  • Bulgaria, Lithuania, Montenegro 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.

Download video from the latest French fur farm investigation

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode: lroode@hsi.org; +27 71 360 1104

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Alamy Stock Photo Broiler chickens on the brooding area of a commercial poultry farm.

LONDON—The largest study ever conducted on the welfare of chickens raised for meat confirms that fast-growing breeds, which make up the majority of chickens raised for commercial meat production, suffer immensely. Around the world, a staggering 60 billion chickens are bred for meat, 1.1 billion a year in the United Kingdom alone, and 9 billion in the United States, which is second only to China.

The University of Guelph, Canada, study included 7,500 chickens from 16 different strains and took two years to complete. While previous studies have also indicated that chickens raised for meat are prone to health and welfare problems, this new research demonstrates that, despite recent breeding objectives, selection for rapid growth and breast-meat yield continues to leave conventional chicken strains with significant welfare issues such as reduced mobility, foot pad lesions, muscle damage and disproportionate heart and lung development. Slower growing chickens tested in the same research trial had consistently better health and behavioral outcomes.

Most commercial chicken meat production around the world currently utilizes rapidly growing breeds, selectively bred over generations to grow unusually fast. These chickens grow from hatch to slaughter weight in just six weeks, the vast majority intensively reared in overcrowded sheds on factory farms devoid of environmental enrichment or natural sunlight.

As stated in the research summary report: “While this high productivity means affordable, consistent product, it has come at a cost to broiler welfare.”

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president of Farm Animal Programs, said: “More than 60 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for meat around the world every year, and this study confirms that the fast growth and tremendous weight they have been bred to reach goes hand in hand with poor welfare and a life of pain. Responsible companies must work quickly to implement reform to reduce the suffering of billions of animals, moving away from these rapid-growth birds. And retailers, restaurants and consumers must also play their part by making more responsible purchasing choices, including reducing and replacing chicken altogether with plant-based proteins and meat-free chicken alternatives.”

The University of Guelph worked independently but accepted input and advice from chicken breeding companies, who provided the animals for the study and advised on their needs. However, even when tested under the carefully controlled environmental conditions specified by the breeders, the welfare of the fastest growing commercial strains was poor. Rapidly growing broiler chickens reared without carefully controlled ventilation, nutrition or temperature controls may suffer even further.

Based on the study’s results, Global Animal Partnership (G.A.P.), a leading farm animal welfare certification and labeling program, will revise its standard on the welfare of chickens to account for this important new science, and Humane Society International urges other welfare assurance schemes to  do the same. As hundreds of large food and hospitality companies have pledged to address animal welfare as part of their corporate social responsibility commitments, G.A.P. certification is a good path toward meeting those promises. The updated broiler chicken requirements in the G.A.P. program will help ensure companies are meeting science-based welfare standards.

The newly released summary report disseminates the initial results, with further analysis expected by the end of the year and more in 2021. The data is expected to be published in peer-reviewed journals, making a key contribution to the scientific literature.

ENDS

Media contact: Sarah Schweig: sschweig@humanesociety.org; +1 202-754-2428

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Stand Up for Animals
The Comedy Store

Our annual comedy fundraiser, Stand Up For Animals, is not possible this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But fear not, you can still have a laugh with us and support our animal protection work because we’ve worked with the Comedy Store to bring you the next best thing!

Stand Up For Animals (the best bits) is a virtual show compiling some of the funniest acts from our last couple of shows, so that you can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home. If you’ve not been able to make it to our popular Stand Up For Animals show in London before, this is your chance to enjoy what the Comedy Store describes as one of its stand-out shows of the year.

Buy your tickets today to watch a fantastic compilation of our animal-loving comedians plus a special message from me and my South Korean dog meat trade survivor, Henry, as well as a welcome from our MC, comedian Carl Donnelly.

Tickets are just £7.50 and the show will go online for one week from Fri 16 October at 7.00pm to Fri 23 October – 8.00am. You’ll be sent your private link to join after you purchase your tickets.

We hope very much that next year we will be able to welcome you at the Comedy Store in person, but in the meantime our virtual comedy night compilation of some of our best bits from previous years is waiting to entertain you.

Book NOW

Stand Up For Animals (the best bits) includes:

  • Carl Donnelly: “Proper tears-in-the-eyes, laugh-out-loud funny!”— Broadway Baby
  • Tom Ward: “Staggeringly Impressive” ***** —The Herald
  • Alasdair Beckett-King: “Delicious writing and exceptional observations.”—Chortle
  • Hassan Dervish: “A musical and spoken word idiot genius.”—FunnyPeopleComedyClub
  • Harriet Kemsley: “A quirky, refreshingly charming comedian at the dawn of her TV career.” —Radio Times

All proceeds go to help HSI’s vital work to protect animals from cruelty and suffering in the fur trade, factory farming, the dog meat trade and trophy hunting, as well as rescuing animals in distress in natural disasters, and more.

Venue: Your laptop
Date: Available to view Friday 16 October at 7.00pm to Friday 23 October at 8.00am.
Tickets: £7.50

Please support HSI/UK by buying tickets and sharing this event with your laughter-loving, animal-friendly friends!

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


After 10 years with the fur trade, Mike Moser realised he was ‘defending what is indefensible’ and regrets not leaving sooner

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Finland fur farm
Kristo Muurimaa

LONDON—Mike Moser, who resigned as CEO of the British Fur Trade Association in 2018 after a decade of defending the fur industry, has come out in support of a UK ban on fur sales because he no longer believes fur can be produced humanely.  Moser is now publicly supporting the #FurFreeBritain campaign by animal charity Humane Society International/UK.

Moser also worked for the International Fur Federation from 2008 to 2015 during which time he visited fur farms on five continents.. He says it was coming home to his beloved Labrador Barney after visiting fur farms overseas that made him realise keeping foxes and raccoon dogs in wire cages barely bigger than they were was unacceptably cruel. His growing doubts solidified during TV and radio debates with HSI/UK’s executive director Claire Bass, during which he began to feel he was “defending the indefensible.”

Moser, who will address MPs and Ministers at a No Business In Fur virtual event for HSI/UK next week, says: “I spent ten years working for the fur trade, and in that time I visited fur farms across the globe so I’ve seen the reality of fur farming. Over time I realised that whatever soundbites we devised to reassure consumers, retailers and politicians, neither welfare regulations nor any industry certification scheme, would ever change the reality of these animals being stuck in tiny wire cages for their entire lives. I would come home to Barney my Labrador, who I loved dearly, and realise that he wasn’t that much different in size to some of the animals I saw languishing on fur farms, and the thought of him being treated like that was just unthinkable. I felt a complete hypocrite.

“On a number of occasions I was in media debates with Claire from Humane Society International, and my job was to counter her claims, but increasingly I found that I agreed more with their messages than I did my own. I no longer had the conviction that what I was doing was right  – defending what is indefensible. One of my main regrets is that I didn’t leave earlier. After I resigned, I met with HSI to express my respect for how they conducted their campaign, and in conversation realised I shared many of their views. I agree fully that the fur trade is out of time.”

In the ten years that Mike Moser worked for the fur trade, he witnessed caging of mink, foxes and raccoon dogs in countries as diverse as Denmark and Finland, China, Russia, and Latvia. He says that regardless of the country of origin and any associated welfare regulations, the basic cage-based model of fur farming is systemically cruel.

Mr Moser says: “It is universally accepted that the ability to exhibit natural behaviour is a fundamental tenet of good animal welfare. It is disingenuous of the fur trade to claim that mink and foxes bred over generations are now domesticated. It is still the instinct of a fox to hunt, to play and to dig and of a mink to swim and hunt. But even IF that were true, our dogs and cats are domesticated but we wouldn’t dream of keeping them in those conditions, it’s just not right.”

Moser is now a part-time consultant for Humane Society International/UK, using his knowledge and experience to support the charity’s #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban. In 2000, the UK announced a ban on fur farming in Britain but didn’t prevent the import and sale of fur from animals farmed overseas. Since the ban came into effect in 2003, almost £800m of fur has been imported into the UK from fur farms in France, Italy, Poland, China and other countries. In 2018 almost £75m of animal fur was imported into the UK, based on pelt auction prices HSI UK estimates that this equates to some 2-3 million animals.

Mike Moser says: “The fur trade is anachronistic. It still fails to recognise that social attitudes towards animals have changed dramatically, that we understand much more clearly sentiency and what constitutes good welfare. The Zeitgeist today is that caging and killing animals for an unnecessary fashion product, that has only vanity value, is unacceptable. The UK banned fur farming two decades ago but for as long as we import and sell the fur from overseas, the UK is still supporting fur farming and trapping by proxy. That’s morally and politically ambiguous, and that’s why I support a UK fur sales ban.”

A new YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, reveals that 93% of the British population never worn fur, or no longer wear it, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “British people and politicians take pride in being a nation of animal lovers, and so it doesn’t surprise me that it was Mike’s love for his dog Barney that was at the heart of his epiphany that caging and killing animals for their fur is wrong. If the idea of locking a pet dog in a cage for life and then electrocuting and skinning that animal for fur is unthinkable, then it’s not a big leap to feel similar empathy for animals like foxes who endure this cruelty on fur farms. I fully respect Mike’s change of heart, and he now has an important and powerful message for the UK government — if someone like him with a decade’s experience inside the fur industry says it’s right to ban fur sales, then it’s time to take action and end the suffering.”

An Early Day Motion 267 urging the government to introduce legislation banning the import and sale of real fur products has so far been signed by 126 MPs, including Tracey Crouch, Maria Eagle, Dr Lisa Cameron and Tim Farron.

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
  • Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Whilst all materials have some eco-footprint, when compared to other textiles, fur takes a significant toll in terms of the C02 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of carnivorous animals on a farm, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.

Sign the #FurFreeBritain petition

Download Mike Moser’s interview

Download fur farm photos and video

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, email: Lroode@hsi.org telephone: 00 27 713601104

Notes to the editor:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,682 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 5th March 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Humane Society International says UK must commit to replacing animals in science if we hope to lead the world after leaving EU

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Bliznetsov/iStock.com

LONDON—Home Office statistics published today reveal that the number of animals suffering in invasive, painful and often lethal experiments in British laboratories has stayed broadly the same almost a decade after the government pledged to reduce animal use. Despite the unprecedented availability of high-tech and more human-predictive non-animal techniques, UK laboratories completed a total of 3.4 million procedures in 2019, down by just 8% on 2010 when the government made its now broken promise. Animal protection charity Humane Society International/UK says as the UK exits the European Union, if Britain hopes to lead the world in science innovation, the government must do far more to move away from outdated animal use.

Earlier this month, the UK government published an ambitious R&D roadmap setting out plans to “revitalis[e] our whole system of science, research and innovation to release its potential”. However, achieving that goal will only be possible in biomedical research if we move away from relying on animal-based approaches that don’t translate to humans, and embrace human biology as the true “gold standard”.

Dr Lindsay Marshall, HSI/UK’s biomedical science advisor, said: “The UK cannot expect to have world-leading science innovation whilst we rely on failing animal-based research methods that are rooted in the past. In drug discovery, pharmaceutical safety, chemical testing, cancer research, the data shows that animal models are really bad at telling us what will happen in a human body. As well as sometimes being dangerously misleading, animal approaches typically take a really long time to produce results, sometimes years, are very expensive, and of course cause enormous animal suffering. As the UK leaves the EU and competes with countries like the USA that are taking bold strides towards animal-free science, we urge the government to radically update its 2010 research policy to focus on replacing animal procedures in science. Incentivising researchers to adopt new approaches is as easy as redirecting public research funding towards cutting-edge non-animal techniques based on human biology.”

Hannah Stuart, HSI/UK’s senior policy specialist, added: “It is so disappointing to see the UK animal experiments numbers show no sustained, significant decrease over time. It’s been almost 10 years since Britain’s reduction pledge, yet the UK remains one of the highest users of animals for science in Europe, with the 2019 total almost exactly the same as it was in 2010. In those same years, non-animal technologies have advanced enormously, now making a reduction strategy hopelessly unambitious, and lagging behind other countries harnessing the innovative technologies revolutionising biomedical research and toxicity testing. If we want Britain to be able to compete on the world stage, what we need to see from the UK government is a strategy for replacing animals in science that sets clear targets and is supported by prioritised investment in innovative, animal-free technologies that advance science and accelerate medical progress.”

In January 2017, the Dutch government announced plans to phase-out animal use for chemical safety testing by 2025, and is well on track to achieve this goal. Belgium’s Brussels-Capital Region banned animal testing on cats, dogs and primates effective January this year, and by January 2025 it will also ban animal use in education and safety testing unless deemed absolutely necessary. In September 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency pledged to “aggressively” reduce animal testing, including removing requirements and funding for experiments on mammals by 2035.

The annual statistics for the number of animal experiments conducted in UK laboratories in 2019 show that a total of 3.4 million procedures were completed, including 4,277 tests on dogs, over 1.2 million tests on mice and rats, 2,850 tests on monkeys, 17,119 on rabbits and guinea pigs, and 131 tests on cats.  Of these, 72,777 animals were subjected to what is classified as severe suffering, the highest category allowed under the law.

ENDS

HSI contact: Dr Lindsay Marshall, lmarshall@hsi.org

Notes:

Home Office statistics on the total number of animal procedures: 2019 3.4 million; 2018 3.52 million; 2017 3.79 million; 2016 3.94 million; 2015 4.14 million; 2014 3.87 million; 2013 4.12 million; 2012 4.11 million; 2011 3.79 million; 2010 3.7 million. It is noted that in 2014 the Home Office adjusted the way the statistics are calculated but this makes only a marginal difference in the picture overall.

Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais, Leona Lewis support #FurFreeBritain campaign for UK fur sales ban

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


RT-Images/iStock.com Red fox lying in leaves

LONDON—British citizens overwhelmingly agree that the time has come for Britain to be fur-free. A new YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, reveals that 93% of the British population reject wearing real animal fur, and the majority (72%) support a complete ban on the sale of fur in the UK. The poll also demonstrates Brits’ scathing view of fur – the words that people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.

HSI/UK released the poll as part of its #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, just one day after HSI’s latest investigation exposed horrific suffering of foxes and raccoon dogs on fur farms in Asia.

HSI/UK’s call for a fur sales ban addresses a double-standard left over from the year 2000’s victory for animals, when the UK announced a ban on fur farming in Britain. However, the ban didn’t prevent the import and sale of fur from animals farmed overseas, and since the ban came into effect in 2003, almost £800m of fur has been imported into the UK from fur farms in France, Italy, Poland, China and other countries. In 2018 almost £75m of animal fur was imported into the UK.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “This new poll shows without a doubt that most Brits reject fur, and they want that reflected in British law with a UK fur sales ban. Like us, they believe that if fur is too cruel to farm in the UK, it is too cruel to sell here too. The vast majority of designers and retailers have already turned their backs on outdated fur, so now it’s time for the UK governments to take action. For as long as fur is sold in our shops, Britain is complicit in the suffering and death of millions of fur bearing animals for the fashion industry. British consumers have made their views clear – fur is cruel, outdated and it should be banned.”

YouGov/HSI poll results:

The most significant statistics include:

  • 72% support a ban on the import and sale of animal fur in the UK (rising to 81% of Scottish voters);
  • The public most closely associate negative words, including “unethical”, “cruel”, “outdated” and “out of touch” with a fashion brand that sells real animals fur;
  • The vast majority of Brits reject wearing real fur: 83% have never worn real fur and another 10% have worn fur in the past but no longer do so. Only 3% currently wear real animal fur.

Bass continued “Any fashion brands or designers currently on the fence about whether or not to sell animal fur should take a close look at these poll results from a business perspective. When given free choice of a range of positive and negative words to describe a fashion brand that sells fur, 79% of people chose negative associations – unethical, cruel, outdated and out of touch. The fur trade’s PR spin has failed to shake solid public perceptions that this is an industry that has no place in modern fashion.”

The #FurFreeBritain campaign has received support from a cross party group of MPs, and Early Day Motion 267, urging the government to introduce legislation banning the import and sale of real fur products, has so far been signed by 106 MPs, including Tracey Crouch, Maria Eagle, Dr Lisa Cameron and Tim Farron.

Celebrities have also expressed their shock at the animal suffering for the fur trade, and pledged their support for HSI’s #FurFreeBritain campaign.

Dame Judi Dench said: “I am proud that the UK was the first country in the world to ban fur farming, and I hope we will be the first country in the world to ban fur sales. Fur farming is cruel and unnecessary.”

Leona Lewis said: “I love all animals, and believe they should be treated with kindness and respect. So as an animal lover I would never wear fur.  That’s why I’m a proud supporter of HSI’s #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban.”

Ricky Gervais said: “I will never understand why anyone would want to wear fur – a beautiful fox who has been beaten or electrocuted, a mink who has been gassed to death, or a coyote who has suffered in a leg hold trap and then been shot in the head. How can anyone want to wear that on their hat or their coat, and how can Britain still sell fur when we banned fur farming for being cruel? It’s utter hypocrisy and that’s why I wholeheartedly support HSI’s #FurFreeBritain campaign.”

HSI/UK’s most recent investigation of fur farms in Asia shows foxes and raccoon dogs living miserable lives in appalling conditions, and enduring painful deaths. Foxes were filmed being repeatedly bludgeoned over the head, resulting in catastrophic injury but not instant death in many cases, and other animals were kicked and cut with knives, or even skinned alive.

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
  • Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Whilst all materials have some eco-footprint, when compared to other textiles, fur takes a significant toll in terms of the C02 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of carnivorous animals on a farm, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the cocktail of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.
  • An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.
 

Which of the following words would you most closely associate with a fashion brand that sells real animal fur? (percentage)

Unethical 27
Cruel 24
Outdated 15
Out of touch 13
Luxury 6
Modern 1
Sustainable 0
On trend 0
None of the above 4
Don’t know 10

Download fur farm photos and video here

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, Lroode@hsi.org, + 27 71 360 1104

Notes to the editor:

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,682 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 5th March 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

“Like a scene from hell,” says wildlife campaigner Chris Packham

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Raccoon dog on a fur farm in a country in Asia that supplies fur to the U.K. and the U.S.

LONDON—Disturbing video footage released by Humane Society International/UK reveals shocking suffering of thousands of foxes and raccoon dogs enduring miserable lives and painful, protracted deaths on fur farms in Asia. Foxes were filmed being repeatedly bludgeoned over the head, resulting in catastrophic injury but not instant death; some animals were cut with knives, or even entirely skinned, while clearly still alive. The footage was described by wildlife presenter and campaigner Chris Packham as “like a scene from hell”.

Download photos and video.

Investigators for Humane Society International filmed at eleven randomly selected fur farms in one of the top countries in Asia exporting fur to the United Kingdom. The charity has chosen not to reveal the country in order to protect the identity of the investigators, but says that despite the UK having banned fur farming nearly two decades ago, Britain still allows imports of tens of millions of pounds of fur every year from farms overseas in countries such as Finland, Italy, Poland, and in Asia from mainland China, Hong Kong, India and Thailand. In 2018 fur imports to the UK totalled £70.4 million, including over £5.3 million direct from China alone. HSI estimates this equates to the import of fur pelts from an estimated 2.5-3 million animals into the UK each year.

Although most British retailers actively choose to be fur free, clothes, shoes and accessories using fur from these and other countries can still be found on sale on the high-street and online. HSI/UK says its latest investigation shows why the British government must end this double standard of allowing the sale of fur the UK deems too cruel to farm here.

Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK said: Behind the PR spin of the fur trade, this is the hideous, heartless reality they don’t want you to see. Raccoon dogs driven mad with boredom in their pitifully small wire cages, foxes repeatedly smashed over the head with a metal bar in front of their terrified cage mates, animals skinned alive so that the fur trade can sell consumers the lie of luxury. I am sickened and heartbroken by what our investigators witnessed on these cruel fur farms, but not surprised.

Every designer putting fur on the catwalk, every retailer putting fur on its shop shelves, and every consumer putting fur in their wardrobe, is helping to pay for this shameful misery. It needs to stop, and the UK is now in a unique position to take action by banning fur sales. This – and every – investigation into the fur trade shows that fur is not glamorous, it’s grotesque, it’s cruelty not couture, and it’s time for the UK to stop trading in such horrors.

In taking control of our markets and laws post-Brexit the government will have the power – and the moral duty – to send a clear message that the UK will no longer tolerate the cruel fur trade. Cross party support for a UK ban on fur sales is already strong, and we now need a sign that the government will act.”

Catalogue of cruelty HSI’s investigation shows:

  • Wild species – fox and raccoon dog – kept in miserable factory farm style conditions
  • Cages so small that many animals can hardly move more than a few inches
  • Utterly barren wire cages, no enrichment whatsoever
  • No bedding, they spend their entire lives bearing their full weight on wire mesh
  • Piles of stinking faeces left to gather on the floor; filthy and empty water bowls
  • No veterinarian present during any of the visits; investigators told none come at all
  • Animals exhibiting repetitive stereotypical behaviour typical of mental decline
  • Foxes beaten repeatedly over the face and head with a metal bar, causing extreme pain and injury but not instant death
  • Animals beaten, killed and skinned in full view of others
  • Foxes cut and skinned while still alive and clearly moving.

TV wildlife presenter and campaigner Chris Packham viewed HSI’s video and said: “I am astonished at the depravity of the fur trade. This investigation is like a scene from hell and anyone who knowingly wears fur should not turn away from watching it. Aside from the unbelievable cruelty of their deaths, these foxes and raccoon dogs will have endured utterly miserable lives. In the wild they would roam and hunt for miles with all the sights and smells of their natural environment. Natural behaviours like digging for foxes are absolutely essential for their mental wellbeing, and yet on fur farms they are confined day in day out in barren battery cages. It is little wonder that that unrelenting deprivation can lead to the tell-tale signs of mental disturbance. There can be no place in British shops and wardrobes for fur, not when this is the price that animals pay, so I fully support HSI’s campaign to make the UK the first country in the world to ban this horrific and totally unnecessary industry.

Humane Society International/UK leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban. The UK government has said that it wants Britain to be ‘a world leader in animal welfare’; HSI believes an ideal way to demonstrate that is for the UK to become the first country in the world to ban fur sales.

Luke Pollard MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “The animal suffering revealed in HSI’s investigation is truly sickening. This outdated and unnecessary trade should have no place in the UK’s fashion industry. The last Labour government banned fur farming in the UK, and Labour has pledged its support for a #FurFreeBritain in order to send a message that we will not trade in such horrendous treatment of animals. We urge the government to signal their commitment to a UK fur sales ban, starting with a public consultation.”

HSI’s call for a UK fur sales ban is backed by a host of celebrities including Alesha Dixon, Paloma Faith, Sir Andy Murray OBE, Brian May CBE, Dr Jane Goodall DBE, and Joss Stone.

Fur facts:

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Additionally, rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
  • On fur farms, animals spend their entire lives in tiny wire battery cages. Foxes are typically kept in cages that are just one metre squared, thousands of times smaller than their territories would be in the wild. This would be like a person being forced to live their entire life in a lift.
  • Foxes and raccoon dogs are known to be able to become infected with SARS-CoV-related viruses, with the potential to act as intermediate hosts to pass viruses to humans. Raccoon dogs and foxes in wildlife markets in China were both found to have been infected with SARS-CoV. HSI is calling on governments to completely ban consumption and trade in wild animals, in order to reduce the risk of another pandemic. China’s draft proposal to ban wildlife consumption and trade presently allows for the continued farming and slaughter of fur-bearing species – mink, raccoon dogs and foxes – defining them as ‘special livestock’. This is unacceptable.
  • Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Whilst all materials have some eco-footprint, when compared to other textiles, fur takes a significant toll in terms of the C02 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of carnivorous animals on a farm, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the cocktail of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.
  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003.An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty.
  • In the last few years alone Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.
  • In 2019, California became the first US state to ban fur sales following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, Hawaii and Rhode Island have introduced fur sales bans, as well as cities Minneapolis, Minnesota and Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Take action: Sign HSI’s petition for a UK fur sales ban at hsi.org/furfreebritain

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org