Wearing fur is cruel

January 22, 2019

I take pride in the fact we often show ourselves to be a kind, animal-friendly community. Santa Fe has taken laudable steps to help and protect animals, from Amelia Elizabeth White and the establishment of our top-notch animal shelter to our ban of wild animal circuses that went into effect in 2017 (“Traveling exotic animal acts banned,” Sept. 14, 2017).

I was, therefore, shocked recently when I encountered a fur store in town. The majority of fur today comes from fur farms, which are largely unregulated and hideously inhumane. An exposé of a chinchilla farm in Michigan documented chinchillas writhing in pain after having their necks broken. In China — which notoriously lacks animal-welfare laws and is the world’s largest fur exporter — even dogs and cats are killed for their fur, which is regularly mislabeled and sold to unsuspecting consumers in the West. Before they’re bludgeoned, strangled, electrocuted or even skinned alive, animals are held around-the-clock in tiny, filthy cages. Some go insane from the intensive confinement.

There was a time when consumers could plead ignorance about where fur comes from — and sellers could ease their consciences with claims of “ethically sourced” fur. Today, however, anyone with a smartphone can pull up videos and see for themselves that terrible cruelty is a hallmark of the fur industry. And while offering vintage fur is nominally better than selling new fur, it’s still harmful and irresponsible, as it fuels overall demand for these opulent death garments.

Thankfully, change is happening: Los Angeles, San Francisco and West Hollywood, Calif., recently banned the sale of new fur. Norway — which was once the world’s largest producer of fox fur — Germany, Japan and several other countries have taken steps to shut down fur farms.

Major fashion brands, including Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Gucci, Versace, Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Burberry, have banned it, and celebrities from Penelope Cruz to Eva Mendez to Olivia Munn refuse to wear it.

As long as we support fur businesses, we are on the wrong side of history. I invite others in Santa Fe to speak out against brutality to animals and those who profit from it.

Nicola Payne lives and works in Santa Fe.

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