: Investigation

Czech Trade Inspection Authority: majority of fur items mislabelled

PRAGUE, 5 JUNE 2018 – The majority of fur items or fur-trimmed items in Czech Republic are mislabelled or not labelled at all. This alarming conclusion, that resulted from an investigation of Czech animal protection organisation Freedom for Animals in early 2017, is backed by new research results of the Czech Trade Inspection Authority (CTIA).

Between November 2017 and January 2018, the CTIA conducted an inspection to examine whether fur labelling in Czech is carried out in compliance with the existing legislation. The results are alarming: only 2 out of 12 control samples were labelled correctly. Four items did not mention real fur at all; five items were not labelled in compliance with the Regulation No 1007/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council on textile fibre names, and one item did not contain a label in the Czech language. The items that were tested were mainly jackets and hats with fur trim or fur pom poms.

cat fur sold as faux fur

The CTIA carried out this inspection following similar research by Freedom for Animals published in March 2017. In fall 2016, the organisation inspected and documented 53 items containing real fur, with alarming results. Lucie Moravcová, anti-fur campaign coordinator of Freedom for Animals, says:

“We found out that 81 % of the samples were not labelled as containing parts of animal origin or fur as they should be according to the relevant legislation.”

For the vast majority of Czech shoppers who reject the cruelty of the fur trade, trying to buy only fake fur can be a real challenge. A public opinion poll, conducted by Focus Agency and published in spring 2017, showed that 85 % of people are not interested to buy real fur and 77 % expect to find correct information on clothing labels. Moravcová adds:

“This topic is highly delicate for customers – the majority of people in the Czech Republic does not want to buy real fur. It is important to be aware of the fact that faux fur is increasingly similar to real animal fur both in appearance and touch as well as price. Thus, these characteristics, formerly used as a way of distinguishing real fur from faux fur, are not reliable anymore. It is clear that current legislation does not guarantee proper protection for the customers. We consider the regulation insufficient and we believe it should state in detail those parts of animal origin in question. However, the regulation must be observed in the first place.”

The Czech investigation was part of an European collaboration of the member organisations of the Fur Free Alliance. Across 10 countries in Europe, 667 textile products containing real fur were inspected. 68 % of the samples did not contain the required information. In September 2017, FFA representatives presented the results of the investigation to the Members of the European Parliament after which they met with the EU commissioners in March 2018 to stress the need to improve the legislation to ensure better labelling of real fur.

More than one year after the publication of the results, European consumers are still duped into buying real fur because a large part of fur items remain mislabelled or not labelled at all, as recent findings of Four Paws in Germany and the Humane Society International in the UK have proven once more.

The Fur Free Alliance will continue to address the high levels of non-compliance and the inadequacy of the current labelling legislation across Europe. The new evidence, as a result of the CTIA inspection, will   to the European Commission.

Jo Swabe, Senio Director of Public Affairs of FFA member organisation Humane Society International/Europe, says:

“The CTIA inspection confirms the results of investigations carried out by FFA member organizations in 10 European countries: huge number of products are not labelled in compliance with Article 12, Regulation on textile fibre names. We proved that the current legislation does not serve its purpose and it is time to take necessary steps to prevent further misleading practices as customers have the right to know what they are buying. The European Commission must act to ensure clearly labelled fur parts.”

The Czech society is increasingly critical towards fur production. The public concerns and concerns on animal welfare led the Czech Republic Senate to vote with an overhelming majority for a prohibition of fur farming in July 2019. The ban on fur farming will go into effect on February 1, 2019. With this decision, Czech Republic became the 9th European country to decide for a fur farming ban.

The suffering of monster foxes continues in Finland

Animal rights group Oikeutta eläimille has obtained new photos from
Finnish fur farms. The footage shows extremely obese animals with severe
eye infections, heavily folded skin and badly malformed feet. They are
kept in small and barren wire mesh cages. According to veterinary
experts, these conditions cause extreme suffering to the animals.

Last year, an investigation revealed the suffering of the animals. The
new material proves that the breeding of these monster foxes continues
in spite of international protests and media attention. Kristo Muurimaa from Oikeutta eläimille says:

“The reason behind the suffering is the greed of the fur industry. Bigger skins mean more money to the farmers. The skins of these animals then end up being used as luxury items by fashion brands such as
Burberry, Chanel and Prada.”

According to Oikeutta eläimille, the obese foxes in the new footage are
a norm rather than exceptions. In the latest fur auction in March, more
than 50 % of the blue fox skins belonged to the biggest size category.

A study conducted in 2012 found, that the average weight of the farmed
blue foxes in Finland was 19,4 kg. In the wild these animals weigh from
3 to 5 kg.

After the exposé last year, several international fashion brands have
announced that they’ll stop using real fur. These companies include
Gucci, Versace and Michael Kors. Furthermore, the city of San Francisco
has banned the sales of fur in the city.

Kristo Muurimaa:

“The fur industry has become a disgrace for Finland and has put it’s reputation as an animal friendly country to shame. Our politicians are more interested in the money than the welfare of the animals.”

Polish MEPs speak out against fur farming in Brussels

BRUSSELS, 26 JANUARY 2018 – This week, Polish members of the European Parliament spoke out against fur farming during the well attended opening of the Make Fur History exhibition in Brussels. The event was an initiative of the Polish members of the ECR Group, co-organised by the Fur Free Alliance and Eurogroup for Animals, to show their support for fur farming bans in Poland and the in rest of the EU.

Poland is currently one of the largest fur producers in Europe. However, the anti-fur movement has increasingly been attracting a lot of attention following the footsteps of various other European countries. A recently proposed bill could make Poland the 14th European nation to turn its back on the extreme animal suffering on fur farms.

Jadwiga Wisniewska, MEP of the ECR Group and co-chair of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, said:

“There is no price that could justify the suffering of animals that are bred in these horrid conditions and killed with exceptional cruelty so that their fur is left undamaged. The exhibition is an opportunity to learn more about the large-scale damage of the fur industry on the environment, the public opinion about fur, and the impact on biodiversity and environmental degradation.”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish Law and Justice Party – currently the largest governing party in the Polish parliament – expressed his support for fur farming bans in a video statement that was screened during the opening:

The three day Make Fur History exhibition aimed to build awareness among EU decision makers of the cruelty associated with fur production and the need for more national bans on fur factory farming. Visitors are confronted with facts on fur production, compelling photography and a virtual reality experience of the conditions on fur farms.

The opening was followed by a roundtable discussion – with MEPs, decision makers and civil society – and a cocktail reception. View the full program and the event poster.

Prof. Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, MEP of the ECR Group, said:

“This is a fundamental issue, concerned with cruelty against animals and protection of the environment. You cannot say that these are rightwing or leftwing issues or conservative in nature. These are cross-cutting issues, that cut right across the political spectrum. We have to deal with these problems together.

We do not want to turn animals into objects. It is not a semi-object or a by-product that we can deal with in the way we have seen in the exhibition. Hopefully we will not be seeing animals being bred for fur in the future at all.”

Watch the full roundtable discussion here:

Mark Glover, Director of Respect for Animals in the UK, adds:

“I can assure you that the Fur Free Alliance and Eurogroup for Animals are united in this. We are absolutely committed to seeing this campaign through. And as you have seen the exhibition is already attracting huge amounts of interest; here in Brussels, in Poland and around the European Union. This will be seen as a landmark in the campaign to bring this morally bankrupt industry to an end.”

Read more at: www.makefurhistory.eu.

Advertising Standards Authority reprimands “animal-friendly fur” labels

30 JULY 2017, THE NETHERLANDS – Last week the Dutch Advertising Standards Authority forced the fur brand Airforce to remove false animal-friendly claims from their labels. The company was selling jackets with raccoon dog fur trims labelled as ‘ethical’ and ‘responsible’.

Raccoon dogs are farmed in China in atrocious conditions with hardly any inspections taking place. The Chinese region Tongxiang, where Airforce sources its fur, is known for the severe abuse revealed on fur farms by undercover investigations.

Raccoon dogs fur farm

Dennis van den Hoorn, CEO of Airforce, says the decision is ridiculous: “My company shows that we are buying responsible Chinese fur”. However, Van den Hoorn says he does not have any prove that there isn’t abuse taking place on the farms:

“Of course our animals aren’t tickled to death, that is clear. But well, I am not present the moment when they are skinned.”

Nicole van Gemert, director of Dutch Fur Free Alliance member Bont voor Dieren – the organisation that the filed the complaint about the misleading labels – is glad with the decision:

“The labels used by Airforce to sell their fur trimmed jackets were misleading consumers into thinking fur is animal-friendly.”






Victory: Germany ends fur farming!

5 JUNE 2017, GERMANY – In a huge victory for animals German leaders have voted to make an end to fur factory farming. The legislation introduces fur farming regulations that are so strict that raising animals for fur will no longer be viable in Germany and will inevitably cause the remaining fur farms to close down. After a five year transition-period the last six mink farms in Germany will finally need to close its doors.

This great news will spare thousands of animals from a miserable life in cruel battery cages and means a big step towards the complete outlawing of fur farming in the country.

Germany ends fur farming

Eighty-five percent of fur comes from animals held captive on fur factory farms. These farms often hold thousands of animals, and the kinds of abuse that the facilities engage in are remarkably similar around the globe. To preserve the pelts animals on fur farms or killed by cruel methods as gassing, neck-breaking, anal electrocution and sometimes skinning alive.

Fur farming bans and stricter regulations that inevitably cause facilities to close are rapidly spreading all over Europe.

Currently parliamentary bills to prohibit fur farming are discussed in Czech Republic, Belgium and Luxembourg. Stricter regulations have caused fur farming to end in Japan and Switzerland and, in the future will end mink farming in Spain. Fox and chinchilla farming was already phased out in Germany, due to stricter regulations, as it was in Sweden.

The first countries to introduce the ban were the U.K., in 2000 and Austria in 2004. Other countries that banned fur farming are the Netherlands, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia.

Severe animal cruelty on Polish fur farms revealed

7 DECEMBER 2016 – For two months, an employee of a fur farm in Masanów, Poland, observed and recorded his everyday work, which included numerous cases of cruelty to animals. The farm breeds over 80,000 American minks each year, and in autumn they are killed and skinned for fur. The recordings from the investigation have now been published by Open Cages.

The shocking video reveals numerous cases of cruel handling of animals: the beating of minks by angry employees, throwing them against walls, trampling them during their escape attempts or tossing them into cages by the tail.

WATCH THE VIDEO: Note the video contains graphic scenes.

The recordings document the large amount of animals that are sick and left without any care. Some minks are partly paralyzed and have visible bloody wounds with protruding bones or hatching larvae. The former employee says that the only thing that can be done is to move the animals to separate cages or use a disinfectant:

“There is a special spray that can be used on sick minks, but in practice no one uses it because the system has no room for treatment. It’s all about the fur, not the animal. The hardest parts were witnessing the murder of animals and the senseless violence. The minks held in cages scream and squeal. For some workers, this is enough to beat them.”

Each day, workers remove dozens of dead minks from cages. The bodies of some of them show deep, painful wounds and severe damage. Paweł Rawicki from Open Cages, says:

“The recordings debunk one of the biggest myths of the fur industry – that the breeders take proper care of the minks because otherwise their fur would be of no use to them. As you can see, it’s not true.”

Animals that don’t make it to the autumn slaughter are skinned anyway, which can also be witnessed in the video by the former employee.

Cruelty polish fur farm

The farm is operated by Farm Equipment International and is part of the Dutch fur empire owned by the Leeijen brothers, who are said to be the biggest providers of mink furs in the world. The company owns 14 farms all around Poland and is only one of many Dutch businesses that are investing in the Polish fur industry. Due to a complete ban on fur farming in the Netherlands, leading fur makers are currently moving their operations to Poland and Lithuania.

This is not the first case of cruel animal mistreatment revealed to be taking place on this company’s farms. On 6th November 2016, two employees of a Farm Equipment International facility in Giżyn received a sentence of six months’ imprisonment suspended for a 2-year trial period. Recordings of animal rights activists from ‘Szczecińska Inicjatywa na Rzecz Zwierząt BASTA!’ show the employees as they brutally throw minks into gas chambers, hit them against cages and beat them severely.

Cruelty polish fur farm

On 15th November 2016, Open cages petitioned the Polish members of Parliament for the ban of canid fur farming, which includes foxes as well as racoon dogs. The petition has been signed by 120,000 people. It is the first step in the direction of ending the suffering of millions of creatures in these facilities, leading to a complete ban of fur farming of any kind of animals.

The petition to stop animal cruelty on Polish fur farms can be signed here.