18 MAY 2017, TALLIN – On 10 May, with 24 votes in favour and 49 against, the parliament of Estonia rejected a bill that would outlaw fur farming in Estonia over a period of ten years. In February a legislative draft was proposed to ban fur farming in Estonia including a ten-year changeover period for fur farmers to transition to a more sustainable industry. The bill was initiated by 14 parliament members representing a range of political parties (SDE, REF, KE) and led by Barbi Pilvre (Social Democrats).
Members voting against the proposed legislation argued that as long as animal welfare needs are met on fur farms they would not support a ban. However, extensive research has pointed out that it is impossible for the needs of mink and foxes to be met on fur farms als long as these undomesticated animals are kept in smalld battery cages.
Kadri Taperson, the manager of Fur Free Alliancem member organisation Loomus, said:
“As fur farms are unable to meet welfare requirements and they cannot guarantee animal wellbeing even with stricter requirements, we might see fur farm bans in less than ten years. The issue has also been taken up in the European Union. This means that the process and campaigns of banning fur farming in Estonia will continue even more intensely.”
It must also be taken under consideration that younger generations care more and more about the welfare of animals, according to Taperson. According to a survey conducted by Kantar Emor at the end of December 2016, 69 percent of the Estonian population does not support raising and killing animals for producing fur:
“Thus, pressure from society will grow and there will be more changes than the current parliament members can foresee. Politicians’ views on animals and nature will definitely be one of the key questions for the young voters before the elections this autumn.”
In 2014, the national petition to ban fur farms collected more than 10 000 signatures in Estonia. The international petition to ban fur farms in Estonia has collected almost 41 000 signatures so far.
In recent decades fur farming bans have become widespread. The United Kingdom, Austria, Croatia, the Netherlands, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Serbia have all prohibited the breeding and killing of animals for fur. Parliamentary debates on fur farming bans are currently taking place in Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and Luxembourg.
13 MAY 2017, PRAGUE – In its second reading the Czech Chamber of Deputies voted in favor of the amendment of the bill that bans the breeding and killing of animals for fur. The amendment was proposed by a number of Deputies led by chairman of the Czech Committee on the Environment, Mr.Robin Böhnisch. The ban on fur farming in the Czech Republic is widely supported by the Czech population.
A recent opinion poll showed that 83% of the Czech population is in favor of the ban. Early this month 46.000 signatures of Czech citizens supporting the ban were presented to the Chair of the Committee on Petitions of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Ms. Zuzka Bebarová Rujbrová.
During the second reading of the bill , opinions with drafting proposals were presented by committees which had passed the amendment at the end of March. The drafting proposals of the Environmental Committee aim to include a one-off compensation which would mitigate the financial impact on the farmers.
The drafting proposals presented by the Agricultural Committee would make fur farming possible for farmers holding the WelFur program certificate. Lucie Moravcová of Svoboda zvířat (Freedom for Animals):
“Welfur is a very questionable tool for evaluating welfare of animals in fur farms. It was developed by the farmers themselves, and in our opinion (as well as in the opinion of many experts) it does not consider all the needs of animals in farms. Adopting this proposal would not bring about any positive change in fur farms in the Czech Republic – in fact it might result in the very opposite. Moreover, Welfur doesn’t at all address the extremely „inhumane“ ways of killing minks and foxes.“
Mr. Böhnisch adds that:
“The drafting proposals adopted at the meeting of the Agricultural Committee, including the one promoting the WelFur program, were invalidated by the Parliamentary Institute, and were also criticised by the section of the Government Legislative Council of Jan Chvojka, Minister for Human Rights, as well as by the Pelikán Krofta Kohoutek law firm which I myself addressed. I hope therefore that in the third reading, the Deputies will no longer support them. During the second reading, I presented a drafting proposal, which reacts in particular to the legislative and technical criticisms of the government and proposes a new scheme of potential compensation to farmers. In order to make the law passable for the Group of the ANO party, the farms are expected to terminate their activities in January 2021.”
The Deputies will vote on the amendment and all drafting proposals in a third reading, which might take place as early as in mid-May this year.
Fur farming has already been banned in 8 European countries such as Great Britain, Austria or Croatia. Lucie Moravcová of Svoboda zvířat says:
„Every year, 20.000 minks and foxes suffer and die in Czech fur farms. Just like the opinion polls carried out in the past years, the most recent one showed that the majority of Czechs is against fur farming. We are convinced that the Deputies will finally hear the opinion of the public and will support the prohibition of fur farming.“
The opinion poll conducted by Focus also revealed that 82 % of adult Czech population do not agree with killing of animals for fur, and 81 % of Czechs believe that present society doesn’t need fur in fashion. Other questions of the poll focused on fur-related consumer behaviour. As the final report „Fur farming in the eyes od the Czech population“ of the agency Focus Marketing&Social Research shows, „only 6 % of the respondents stated they buy products containing genuine fur. 85 % of the respondents do not buy this type of products and 7 % are not able to distinguish between genuine and artificial fur.“ According to the poll, 77 % respondents expects products containing genuine fur to bear a clear marking on the label.
25 APRIL 2017 – In a letter to the members of the Bosnian House of Peoples the Fur Free Alliance urges the Bosnian government to stay committed to the Animal Protection and Welfare Act that was voted upon in 2009 and make an end to fur farming.
In 2009 Bosnia and Herzegovina passed a law to ban fur farming with a 9 year phase-out period, that would make fur farming illegal in 2018. With an unusual, urgent procedure the Bosnian government has recently voted for a last-minute postponement of the ban. Worldwide organisations are urging Bosnia and Herzegovina to stay committed and make an end to the cruel practice of fur farming. Joh Vinding, Chair for the Fur Free Alliance, says:
“In the last eight years, fur farmers in Bosnia and Herzegovina were given the opportunity to transition to a more sustainable industry. Prolonging the phase-out period would be unjustifiable to farmers that have respected the law. Besides, it would weaken the reliability of legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, given the unjustified, urgent procedure used by the House of Peoples to annul legislation that was voted upon by the Bosnian government eight years ago in 2009.”
Read the full letter to the members of the House of Peoples.
Fur coats or fashion accessories are non-essential luxury items. An increasing majority of the population finds it unjustifiable to subject animals to prolonged suffering for trivial ends, such as fashion items. The ethical concerns of a large majority of the European citizens and the inherent cruelty of fur farming have led more and more countries to close down fur farms in recent years. In 2000 the UK was the first country in Europe to ban fur farming on the ground of public morality. Other European countries that decided to ban fur farming since are Austria, The Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia.
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.
10 APRIL 2017, LONDON—An investigation by Fur Free Alliance member Humane Society International/UK has discovered shoes containing real cat fur for sale on the British high-street by youth fashion chain Missguided.
The import and sale of fur from domestic cats and dogs has been banned across the EU since 2009, and Missguided is a vocal advocate of its fur-free policy. Despite this, laboratory tests confirmed that the pom-poms of fur decorating the shoe were cat fur . The shoes, which have been on sale by the retailer both online and at its Westfield Stratford store, list only man-made materials on the label.
Concerned shopper Donna Allison alerted HSI/UK to the shoes after suspecting they contained real animal fur, despite receiving an assurance from the store’s official Twitter account of their policy to only sell fake fur. In countries such as China – where the Missguided shoes were made – an estimated two million cats a year, including pet cats, are snatched from the streets and killed for their meat and fur.
HSI has contacted Missguided about the finding and has forwarded the information to Trading Standards and asked that the enforcement authority investigates the findings further in relation to the The Cat and Dog Fur (Control of Import, Export and Placing on the Market) Regulations 2008. Donna Allison said:
“I find it horrifying that Missguided and other retailers are selling real fur — in my case cat fur — and that they didn’t appear to take action when I raised my concerns about this serious issue. All retailers should be taking action to ensure complete traceability of their materials. It’s unacceptable that they are helping fund an industry where animals have to endure unimaginable cruelty and for something so unnecessary. I urge everyone to be more vigilant and understand how to identify and ensure they’re buying faux fur.”
Whilst trade in dog, cat and also seal fur is banned across the EU, and all fur farming has been illegal on moral grounds in the UK since 2003, imports of fur from a range of species such as fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, racoon dog and chinchilla can still be legally sold here. It’s a double standard that makes no moral sense, and yet as a member of the EU single market, unilaterally banning the trade of fur into the UK would likely have been challenged in Brussels and by EU member nations that continue to farm animals for their fur.
However, Brexit offers the opportunity to change that, and HSI/UK is calling on the British government to make the United Kingdom a fur-free zone by extending the cat, dog and seal fur bans to all fur-bearing species. A 2016 YouGov opinion poll  asked whether people found it acceptable or unacceptable to buy and sell fur from nine different species and found that, averaged across all species, only one in ten people believe it is acceptable to buy and sell real fur. Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, said:
“It is extremely concerning to find cat fur on sale illegally in the UK, both because of the cruelty that cat and all fur products represent, but also because it will rightly dent the confidence of consumers seeking to buy only fake fur. Fake faux fur is a growing problem; when items have cheap price tags and labels saying ‘100% acrylic’, consumers can understandably be caught out mistaking them for fake fur, when in fact they contain fur from a tormented animal. Independent stores, popular markets like Camden, as well as online retailers such as Amazon are awash with cheap animal fur-trimmed garments that are either mislabelled as ‘faux’ or not labelled at all. To properly protect both animals and consumers the government needs to take action to stop Britain’s insidious fur trade.”
The Missguided ‘fake faux’ fur shoes are the latest in a large number of similar items exposed by HSI/UK over the past couple of years, including several well-known high-street brands. Most recent items discovered by HSI’s secret shoppers from December 2016 – February 2017 include:
* another shoe style at Missguided that tested positive for rabbit fur;
* a pair of gloves at ‘fur free’ retailer House of Fraser that tested positive for rabbit fur;
* a range of shoes from Westfield Stratford store Primars all sold as fake fur but found in tests to contain fur from rabbit, mink and fox;
* a bobble hat sold on Amazon UK as faux fur but testing positive for raccoon dog or fox fur (this listing included an on-screen no-fur assurance); and
* another bobble hat sold on popular fashion boutique website Lily Lulu sold as “faux fur” online, labelled as 10% marmot on delivery but testing positive for raccoon dog fur when sent to the lab
In several cases where HSI’s secret shopper questioned staff in-store, they incorrectly confirmed items were faux fur. HSI/UK believes that most consumers would be horrified to discover they’ve inadvertently bought real fur. HSI’s Claire Bass said:
“We know that the vast majority of British people reject the inherent cruelty of the fur trade but at the moment they are not getting the right information as consumers to avoid it. Clear labelling of all fur is an obvious starting point that will likely reduce the UK’s fur trade significantly, but we don’t believe that goes far enough. Whether it’s fur from coyotes caught in the wild in agonising traps, raccoon dogs and foxes enduring miserable lives and painful deaths by electrocution on fur farms, or cats bludgeoned to death in China, we believe all fur is cruel and should be banned regardless of species. Morally, there is no logic to banning fur from some animals and not others, and Brexit means we could have the opportunity to reflect public opinion and make the UK the world’s first fur-free nation.”
Around the world in countries such as China, France and Poland, animals on fur farms can be subjected to the same terrible conditions as those the UK banned back in 2000, with the UK’s final fur farm closing in 2003. Beautiful wild animals are kept their entire lives in filthy, tiny cages, forced to endure physically and mentally damaging conditions before being killed and skinned for their fur. Wild animals such as coyotes fair no better, caught in agonising traps for hours or even days before they’re put out of their misery.
Cruel conditions revealed on a fox fur farm in Raciborsk, near Wieliczka.
Seventeen foxes were rescued by the Open Cages Association.
The foxes will be taken care of by animal shelters all over Poland.
POLAND, 3 APRIL 2017 – The end of March, an animal welfare organization in Cracow discovered a small fox farm along with an illegal puppy mill. Foxes were being bred in extremely small cages and it was obvious that the farm did not meet the already low requirements for breeding fur animals. Polish Fur Free Alliance member Open Cages was notified and rescued the seventeen foxes from the cruel conditions on the farm in Raciborskowho. In 2015 Open Cages rescued two crippled foxes from a farm in Kościan in 2015and last year rescued two foxes that were then taken care of by Poznań Zoo. This is the first time that so many animals were rescued from a fur farm in Poland in once.
Watch the video here:
The foxes rescued by the association were brought to safe places all around Poland: the Animal Shelter in Korabiewice run by Viva Foundation, Przystań Ocalenie (Rescue Haven) in Tychy, the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wild Animals in Jelonki, the Old Zoo in Poznań, and the S.O.S. Foundation Animal Shelter. Cooperation between the animal protection organizations and animal care centres was crucial to ensure that such a large number of animals were given the opportunity to be relocated in animal care facilities adapted to taking care of animals with special needs. “On site we encountered exhausted animals, which had spent all their lives in cages, barely able to move. To be honest, they had more luck than the foxes kept in slightly bigger but regulatory cages, because in late fall, they will be skinned and their fur will be sold. The foxes removed from Raciborsko are going to spend the rest of their lives under the care of responsible guardians”.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development’s executive order requires a space of only 0.6 m2 to be allocated to each individual fox in a breeding facility. The animal farm in Raciborsko did not even meet these strikingly low requirements, and it was only due to this fact that it was possible to remove the animals. Each year in Poland, approximately one hundred thousand foxes and raccoon dogs and around 8–10 million mink are bred and killed in similar, though larger, animal farms. In November 2016, the Open Cages Association submitted a petition to the Polish Parliament to ban the breeding of canines for fur. A draft amendment to the Animal Protection Act is being drawn up by the Parliamentary Friends of Animals Team, which is intended to ban all breeding of animals for fur. According to the polls commissioned by Open Cages, 67% of Poles support such changes.
The priority of the intervention was to safely accommodate the rescued foxes. However, based on collected evidence, the association intends to report the matter to the Prosecutor’s Office as a suspected criminal offense.