Earlier this week, the staff of our Fur-Free campaign came up with a startling calculation. The global drop in retail fur sales as reported by the industry itself could spare the lives of 10 million animals a year.
Just consider that for a minute. That’s more animals than there are people in New York city. If you started counting now—one animal each second around the clock without stopping— you’d still be counting at the end of July.
That’s a lot of living that will occur. That’s a lot of needless suffering that won’t.
Because I’ve worked in this cause for so long, I cannot help but put a face on things when the word “fur” is spoken—say, the face of a single raccoon dog, raised her whole life in a pitiful, cold cage. Day after day, she sits in this barren chamber. Her fate is sealed by the coat of fur that she was born with.
One day, she will be taken from the cage. Her first trip will be her last.
In my job, I’ve seen a lot—and few things are as horrible as the video images of these wondrous, kind-faced animals being skinned alive.
Look closely at our website, and you’ll see other victims of the grim fur trade—including Canada’s baby seals. I warn you, however, these images are very graphic and disturbing. But to not show them would be to spare the Canadian government the shame it deserves for sponsoring this bloody slaughter that is underway as I write these words.
So when you think of the 10 million animals spared this year, let your mind wander in the direction of animals like these helpless seals, or the pitiful raccoon dogs.
There is no joy in our global recession, except that people here and afar are rethinking what is important in life. When they choose not to buy fur, lives are spared.
I hope with all my heart that the change we see now as measured by a 13 percent reduction in retail fur sales is only the beginning. Fur garments are not primary items of clothing—they are extravagences.
There is absolutely no need on Earth for them anymore. Faux fur and other alternative garments are just as good in every way and better beyond calculation when it comes to reducing agonies.
In fact, it can take a trained expert and microscopic tests to tell whether a garment is trimmed in the latest faux fur or the fur of an animal. We conduct them all the time at our operations center in Maryland.
I’m happy to say that it’s not just the recession, but changing attitudes that are contributing to the reduced demand for fur. We do not have global data yet, but in the U.S. polls show that acceptance of animal fur clothing is on the decrease. We also know from the tireless work of our HSUS staff and tens of thousands of you, our supporters and like-minded groups, that more and more designers and retailers are going fur free—big names like JCPenney, Overstock.com, BCBG, and Benetton. You can see a complete list here.
And when you decide to update your wardrobe, I hope you’ll patronize such businesses.
Politics and advocacy, of course, play such an important role in social attitudes. For the past few days, our intrepid staff in the icy waters off eastern Canada has been chased and menaced by sealers as we document and bear witness to their melding of stone-age mentalities with modern-day technologies, producing the catastrophic destruction of life in the nursery in Atlantic Canada.
Through this kind of risky work, our team has made great strides in turning the world against killing seals—and the evidence can be seen in an astonishing decline in the price of seal pelts to $15 Canadian—compared to $30 last year and $100 two years ago. Some sealers are saying they cannot break even anymore—and my reply is, hurrah.
Fur is down. Let's hope that before too awfully long, I will be able to report that fur is gone. Friends, keep up the hard work. It’s paying off in living, breathing dividends. Today’s 10 million animals can be next season’s 75 million.