BERKELY, UNITED STATES, 10 APRIL 2017 – The City Council of Berkeley CA last week voted to adopt an ordinance banning the sale of fur apparel, signaling that Berkeley is a city that cares about all individuals. The bill was spearheaded by Berkeley Coalition for Animals (BCA), and sponsored by Council Member Kriss Worthington.
BCA is an all-volunteer group that promotes animal-friendly legislation and businesses. Members point out that, historically, Berkeley has recognized and protected the rights of marginalized populations well ahead of other municipalities. Animal advocates want the City to refuse to participate in the exploitation and slaughter of animals. Amy Halpern-Laff, a founding member of the Berkeley Coalition for Animals, says:
“To protect these innocent animals, we need to curtail the demand for their fur. Today, Berkeley took an important step in that direction. We applaud the Council’s leadership in helping to end this cruel industry.”
Berkeley is the second city in the nation to prohibit fur sales. West Hollywood, CA passed a similar ban in 2013. The WeHo ban survived a judicial challenge from several luxury retailers.
Earlier this month, over 100 animal advocates marched through Berkeley and staged a rally at the University of California’s Sproul Plaza in support of the fur ban. The march and rally were organized by Direct Action Everywhere, a global grassroots network of animal rights activists.
The version of the Ordinance approved by the City Council contains a few exemptions, which BCA and Council Members are working to eliminate on the second reading tonight.
Read more about bans on fur trade and fur farming HERE.
13 FEBRUARY 2017 – Last month Lithuanian citizens took the streets to protest the extreme animal cruelty in the fur industry. Around 1000 participants gathered on the Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius to raise public awareness on the ethical problems associated with fur industry. The march was an initiative Fur Free Alliance member Open Cages (Tusti Narvai).
The march was meant to support the action of the member of Lithuanian Green Party, Linas Balsys, who recently registered an amendment of the Animal Welfare and Protection Law which would essentially ban rearing and killing animals for fur if it was introduced. The amendment in question will likely be voted on during the Parliament spring session.
The march for animals attracted people to join from all over Lithuania, as well as international participants from Germany, UK, Denmark and Latvia. Supporters of both the Green party and the Liberals could be seen holding protest signs. And several Lithuanian celebrities joined in.Gabija Enciute, one of the founders of Open Cages in Lithuania, commented after the rally near the Parliament:
“We are happy that so many people came. There must be some kind of political and social maturing going on. More people than ever seem outraged enough with the failing of the law to go out into the streets. Seeking to defend the weak – in this case, the animals – is a true sign of a mature society. We are trying to change the legislation, and we’re hopeful that Lithuania too will join the growing group of European countries that have banned the intrinsically unethical practice of fur farming”
Currently there are about 200 fur farms operating in Lithuania that altogether cause about 2 million animal deaths every year. The rally was organised in order to encourage the Lithuanian MPs to vote for the amendment in animal welfare legislation and draw their attention to the environmental and animal welfare problems in the fur industry. A 2016 representative poll shows that two thirds of the Lithuanian citizens don not support fur farming.
ISRAEL, 3 FEBRUARY 2017 – Next Monday, the Ministerial Law Committee is due to discuss a bill that would ban the sale of fur and fur products in Israel. The proposed law imposes a six-month sentence or monetary fine to anyone who sells fur or fur products. The bill exempts the shtreimel – the fur hat worn by Hasidim on Shabbat and Jewish holidays – and all other fur products “that are used for religious needs or religious tradition”.
Previous attempts to advance similar legislation that did not make such exemptions failed due to opposition from the ultra-Orthodox factions. To avoid objections from the ultra-Orthodox parties, the shtreimal is not included in the new ban proposal.
At the same time, the bill would permit the use of fur products from cattle, sheep and camels, and the use of fur for scientific research. The bill has garnered the signatures of 25 more MKs from coalition and opposition alike. The bill’s sponsor, Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli says:
“The days are gone when people didn’t understand that animals suffer too and that humans have an obligation to protect helpless creatures that cannot defend themselves. Cruelty to animals was prohibited in the Torah, and the time has come now for Israeli law to ban the sale of fur. Skinning animals in order to sell their fur is one of the cruelest, most horrible ways to kill animals. Today there are all kinds of synthetic fur available, and there is no reason for us to continue putting animals through such agony.”
The explanatory material for the bill says that each year hundreds of millions of animals are executed by the fur industry:
“The fur industry entails indescribable cruelty and suffering for animals, which are bred in inhumane conditions, brutally captured in the wild, and killed. Often, animals are stripped of their fur while still alive. … Fur is mainly used in the fashion industry. In a warm climate like Israel’s, fur is mainly purchased not out of need but as a status symbol. In the 21st century, there are synthetic fabrics that are warmer than fur.”
If Israel passed the law, it will become the first country in the world to ban the trading of fur. The city of West-Hollywood decided to ban the sales of fur in 2011, and a similar ban was passed in the Brazilian state of Sao Paolo in 2015. In January this year India decided to ban the import of fur.
INDIA, 6 JANUARY 2017 – The Director General of Foreign Trade in India, which comes under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has banned the import of skins of reptiles, chinchillas, mink and fox through a notification issued on 3 January.
According to Fur Free Alliance member Humane Society International (HSI), “Worldwide millions of minks and foxes are kept in filthy and wire-floored cages until they are gassed and finally slaughtered for their fur.” The methods used in fur factory farms across the world are remarkably poor and designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals.
At present, India’s import policy allows import of “raw hides, skins, leather, fur skins” of reptiles, mink, fox and other fur skins (whole, with or without head, tail or paws). But they are subject to India’s Wild Life (Protection) act, 1972 and CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
CITES is an international agreement between governments and it aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Animal rights organisations had been urging the central government to take a clear stand on the issue and close the doors for trade in exotic skins. Union women and child development minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi had earlier written a letter to the Union commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighting the need to curb cruelty towards animals by prohibiting the import of exotic skins.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC ) and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), India’s nodal body for animal welfare, also supported the need to bring in the ban.
“We commend the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and MoEFCC for its firm commitment in abolishing the import of exotic skins. The exotic fur, skin and leather industry slaughters, bludgeons and skins millions of animals every year in the name of frivolous fashion. Nations across the world are switching to cruelty-free alternatives and we are glad that India is gradually emulating similar policies to reduce and eliminate unnecessary pain and suffering to animals,” said Gauri Maulekhi, who is HSI India’s government liaison.
SAO PAOLO, 4 NOVEMBER 2014 – Chinchillas, mink and other fur animals can no longer be raised for their pelts under a new measure in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. According to the state government, Brazil is one of the biggest chinchilla producers in the world, after Argentina.
Animals bred for the fashion industry are highly stressed, mistreated and “kept in cages that are so small they cannot even move properly,” the law says. “All this cruelty makes fashion that uses animal fur immoral and unjustifiable.”
The law aims to protect animals whose fur is used for coats and other fashion accessories, including rabbits, foxes, mink, badgers, seals, coyotes, squirrels and chinchillas.
Those violating the law will face fines. “The law is going to be approved. For us, it’s over,” chinchilla growers’ association chief Carlos Peres said.
Congressman Feliciano Filho shared the success last week on his Facebook page: “Since 2011, I have worked hard to make this dream come true. It will save the lives of thousands of animals living in very small cubicles, barely able to move, only to be cruelly killed to satisfy human vanity. This is unacceptable. We suffer knowing how much they suffer.”