The Skin Trade for Fur and Hides is Always Cruel

bobcats divinity

There is NO way to produce a fur garment or a fur trimmed item without an animal being killed and skinned in the process.  The crazy justifications people have for wearing fur range from saying that the animal died of old age, that the fur was removed without the animal dying, that the animal was raised for its fur, or that the fur is old and was passed down from an era when people didn’t know any better. All of these tragic beliefs are just the cognitive dissidence that humans rely on to make themselves feel good about something that is so inherently cruel.

Whether an animal is raised in a cage and slaughtered, or trapped in the wild and slaughtered, there is no good way to die so that someone else can wear their skin.  There is no reason for the practice given the fact that today’s coats are made of much warmer, cheaper and easier to care for materials.  If you love the look and feel of real fur, there is an abundance of faux fur options that are softer, last longer and don’t smell like a dead animal.

Until 2010 there was a loophole in the law that enabled real fur to be labeled wrongfully as faux.  Even though there is a better law now, thanks to the Humane Society of the United States, Big Cat Rescue and other animal protection groups, there may still be mislabeled furs in the marketplace. So be sure to closely examine anything that might be fur.  As the public has increasingly said NO to real fur, the garment industry has dyed their furs pink and green and other unnatural colors to fool the public.

Want to DO Something About It?

Visit and take action now!

Compassion is always in fashion, so just Say NO to fur.

Go Cool vs. Cruel this Year

You get two seconds to make an impression in this world and nothing else says so clearly, “”I don’t give a damn about anything or anyone but me,” like wearing a fur.

Here are just a few of the things we want to make people aware of before they put on that fur coat or accessory:

• Approximately forty animals are killed for each fur coat.
• Each of those animals has died a violent death: anal electrocution, gassing, neck breaking, drowning, a shot to the head, or clubbing.
• Trapping is widely recognized as cruel. The most popular of traps used to catch fur-bearing animals, the steel-jaw leghold, has been banned because of its cruelty in 89 nations and 5 states in the United States. See where that fur really comes from in this video clip.
• Fur is often labeled as faux or fur trim when it is really dog and cat fur.
• Fur farming is going out of fashion. For instance, Great Britain has just banned all fur farms. Austria has effectively banned fur farming. And Sweden has outlawed keeping foxes in cages for their fur.

Trappers in the U.S. kill several million fur bearing animals each year (4 million in 1998; 2.5 million in 1999) with 1.5 million more trapped in Canada.  88.5 % were “non target” species including family pets.

Between 1968 and 1970 the U.S. fur industry imported 18,456 leopard skins, 31,105 jaguar pelts, and an incredible 349,680 ocelot skins.  It also imported over 3000 cheetah pelts, representing one and a half times the number of cheetahs remaining in all of the parks in Africa in 1972.

What can you do?

If you have a fur coat, put it to good use.  Donate it to your local Rehabilitator to use in comforting the orphaned babies and injured wildlife that they care for each year.  In most cases they are registered as a charity with the IRS and you can get a tax credit for doing the humane thing.

If you really love the look of fur buy a fake.  They are better than the real thing in terms of feel and ease of care.  Oleg Cassini designs an upscale collection of fake furs called “Evolutionary Fur”.  He is quoted as saying “Anyone who is familiar with animals, knows the animals suffer.  Animals sense when they are about to be killed.  they have the imagination to fear.  They cry.”  If you have ever seen your own cat dart around the room chasing imaginary prey,  you know that they do have the imagination to fear.

As consumers we can ban the killing of animals for their fur by boycotting places that sell fur items and telling them why.  Write letters to the editors of your newspapers as well as your state and federal legislators urging them to ban this horrific practice.

Faux or Fur?

The cover of the Style & Arts section of the Thursday, January 12, Boston Globe has an interesting article, by Tina Cassidy, headed, “With Faux Looking so Real These Days, You Can’t Tell Who’s….Faking it.”

Cassidy discusses how hard it is to distinguish the new faux furs from real fur. She writes,”And therein lies the dilemma. With the senses so easily tricked, a woman wearing real fur may feel emboldened to flat-out lie if someone say, at a cocktail party in Cambridge, asks her if her coat used to belong to a beaver. And a woman wearing a fake mink shrug to the opera may feel sly enough to fib and say it was her grandmother’s. Likewise, the girl who thought she was buying a sweater trimmed in fake fox might actually end up wearing cheap bunny around the collar.

“And a woman who refuses to wear animal skins for political reasons but still likes the look of fur may be accused of the very act she tried to avoid. Just ask Martha Stewart. When Stewart walked out of the federal courthouse — and in front of a bank of cameras — with a furry accessory knotted cozily around her neck, her fashion statement set off two reactions: The first was from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which promptly named her one of the world’s worstdressed celebrities of 2004. The second was from furriers who raced to emulate what they believed was Stewart’s dyed chinchilla scarf. Both were misguided. Stewart was wearing a fake.”

In other words, Martha’s fox scarf being fake made a difference to the handful of foxes who would have died for her scarf if it were real, but made no difference to the thousands of others who were killed by the example she inadvertently set.

The final lines of the piece are heartbreaking:

“Which leads us to the next issue: With faux fur flooding the market, it is further diminishing the glam of the real thing. On a recent shopping trip to Marshalls, there was a legitimate mink evening bag on the mark-down rack. No one wanted it. Not even for the bargain price of $50.”

Animals lived miserably and died in agony for a bag nobody even wanted.

I urge anybody who has doubts about the misery and agony of animals raised for fur to watch the undercover footage of at from a fur farm in Midland, Michigan, which shows chinchillas being electrocuted, causing painful seizures to the animals’ hearts, and having their necks snapped while fully conscious. It is hard to watch but will dispel apathy about the fur industry.

Perhaps even harder to watch, for those of us who live with dogs and cats, is the dog and cat fur footage from China at:

And you’ll find video of other animals (more widely sold in the United States) on Chinese fur farms being slammed against the ground to stun them, then struggling as they are skinned alive at

The Boston Globe piece suggests that those wearing convincing faux fur are supporting the industry portrayed in those videos by advertising indistinguishable products. I can’t help but think that whether it be the skins of tortured animals draped around a human, or just something fashioned to resemble that horror, it is, either way, grotesque. Others may disagree — and the Boston Globe article offers a great opportunity for a public discussion on the issue, and letters that discuss the horror of the fur industry.

You’ll find the full Boston Globe article on line at:

The Boston Globe takes letters at:

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Shorter letters are more likely to be published.

Yours and the animals’,  Karen Dawn

DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at


Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Fur Coats Found in UK Raid.

Fur coats thought to be made from some of the world’s most endangered big cat species have been seized during a raid. Tiger, leopard and snow leopard skins are thought to have been used to make the eight coats found at a fur dealer’s in Camden, north London.


Bobcats Trapped in US for Russia Fur Coats

High-demand for bobcat fur coats has wildlife advocates worried about overtrapping in West

MARTIN GRIFFITH |Associated Press Writer  June 12, 2009


Ocelot Facts

This cat is probably the best known of the South American cats because of its pelt being the mainstay of the fur trade, and for the fact that it was frequently kept as a pet. Due the fact that Ocelots are high strung, unpredictable, comedic little cats, humans de-fanged, de-clawed, de-scented, and altered these cats in order to make them conform to the “pet” industry. Like all exotic cats, these creatures, male or female, altered or not, spray a foul smelling urine on everything they wish to mark as theirs including their keepers. In the 1980’s, Ocelot fur coats sold for $40,000.00 and the live animal as a pet sold for $800.00.  READ MORE –


History & Evolution of Big Cat Rescue

By: Carole Baskin, Founder of Big Cat Rescue

Big Cat Rescue did not start out as what it has become today.  My beliefs, and the sanctuary that reflects them, evolved over time.  It involved lessons that came from what I view today as horrible mistakes, and sometimes I feel terrible about how long some realizations took.  But I take great pride in what we have become and are accomplishing, and feel great excitement about what I believe we will accomplish in the future.

As detailed in How We Started, the sanctuary began when the search to purchase a pet bobcat kitten brought us unwittingly to a “fur farm” that sold a few  cats as pets, but primarily raised them to turn into fur coats.  We bought all 56 kittens to save them from being slaughtered.



Snow Leopard Facts

This species, like the clouded leopard, is one of those that is somewhere between the small cats and the great cats in that it can’t purr like the small cats and it can’t roar like the true great cats. It makes a happy sound similar to the tiger’s chuffing.

Its greatest threats are the hunting of its main prey species in the mountains, and the poisoning of other of its prey species, leaving the snow leopard with out a means of sustaining itself. There is also a demand now for snow leopard bones in traditional Chinese medicine as a substitute for tiger bones. Unfortunately, there is still a demand for fur coats from snow leopard skins in some countries, but luckily that has greatly diminished. At one time here in the US, a coat from a snow leopard sold for up to $50,000.00.



Oprah Announces No Fur in Her O Magazine

The October 2011 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine announced its decision to never feature real fur in the magazine and only use cruelty free materials in its stories, including no leather or exotic skins. This decision was broadly embraced by the readership.


Operation Cyberwild Leads to Dozen Criminal Cases Alleging Illegal Sale of Endangered Species through Internet Sites

LOS ANGELES – Federal and state authorities have filed criminal cases against a dozen people who allegedly used Internet sites to illegally sell endangered species and other wildlife protected by federal and state law, including fish, birds and exotic animal pelts.

The charges are the result of Operation Cyberwild, a task force investigation conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), which received substantial assistance from volunteers with the Humane Society of United States.



Top 5 Worst Christmas Gifts


Stuffed 10-Day Old Tiger Cub Found in UK Police Raid on Dealer

Lying defenseless in the wild, this 10-day-old tiger cub was killed by poachers and then sold on the thriving black market in Britain. The cub was so young when it was seized it would have been unable to open his eyes.


Faux Fur the Future in Africa?

By Jasonmiks


She’s a Tiger

CEO Report to Board and the Cats

By Pegi Dahl  

Haley had worked diligently for the yearbook staff since 7th grade and now that she was entering her 12th school year she would be helping to prepare the most important one, her senior yearbook. And more importantly, she wanted her own photo as exciting as those she’d handled for other seniors in their yearbooks, and she especially liked the photos where seniors posed with exotic animals. After all, it would be her last high school picture.



Misery on the Mink Farm  –  by Scott Beckstead

“But the unspeakable misery of their animals cannot be denied.”

The Beckstead family is one of the biggest fur farming families in Utah and Idaho. They are said to own two farms, one in each state.

One of the Beckstead clan does not support the bloody work of his family. In 2001, son Scott Beckstead published this damning indictment of his family and the fur farming business. The article was published in The Oregonian (the largest newspaper in Oregon),

The Oregonian  December 9, 2001

Misery on the Mink Farm  –  by Scott Beckstead

These cold, gray days stir vivid memories for me, childhood images I shall live with forever. Strongest among them are those of pelting season on Grandpa’s mink farm.

My grandfather, gone now for more than a decade, raised minks in Franklin, Idaho. Every fall, my family traveled to Franklin to help my grandparents with what we called “the pelting season.”

I remember the smell. Like all members of the weasel family, minks are equipped with powerful scent glands. They sprayed their musky stench while in the throes of death. That smell permeated everything. Our clothes. Our hair.

I didn’t have the manual dexterity to do the skinning, so I helped with the killing. We killed the females by breaking their necks. The males were not so lucky. They were too big to have their necks broken, so they were gassed. It took them a long time to die. I remember hearing their gasps and screams, and I remember having to pry their jaws from the wire mesh once they went silent.

After they were killed, I piled their warm, soft bodies into a wheelbarrow. I wheeled them to the mink shed just outside the pelting shed and positioned their bodies so as they stiffened, they would be easier to skin.

I remember how the minks within eyesight or earshot reacted to the cries of their dying mates, how by the hundreds they bobbed and paced frantically inside their tiny pens. One mink, a beautiful smoky gray female, died as she was pulled from her pen. She screamed, and then simply went limp.

In the preceding hours, she had watched and listened as others were pulled from their pens and killed. I always believed she knew what was happening around her and what was about to happen to her. I believe she died from sheer terror.

Grandpa’s mink farm wasn’t my only fur farm experience. My family lived a half-mile from the largest fur farm in southern Idaho. Minks, foxes, bobcats, even wolves, were raised for their pelts.

While doing my morning chores, I remember hearing the foxes yelping as they were electrocuted. Despite the distance, their sharp cries carried clearly through the crisp morning air.

Minks and foxes are wild animals. Although they’ve been kept in captivity for many years, they’ve been bred only for the quality of their fur. There’s been no effort to eliminate their wild urges and behaviors. They act just as you would expect wild animals to act when kept by the thousands in tiny, cramped pens. Their urge to roam and hunt is transformed into psychotic behaviors, cannibalism and self- mutilation.

When it comes to killing, fur farmers are concerned about preserving the pelt. Being quick and humane is not the priority.

That’s not to say my grandfather was a bad man. Grandpa was kind, gentle and decent to his children and grandchildren. I believe most people who raise animals for their fur are honest, hardworking people.

But the unspeakable misery of their animals cannot be denied.

These conditions are prevalent throughout the fur industry today. The industry’s animal husbandry practices have changed little over the years, other than advances in medical technology that have eradicated many of the diseases, such as distemper.

I’ve also done a lot of hunting. Although some might say killing is killing, for me the sportsmanlike killing of an animal in the wild had a certain nobility and grace to it. We were in awe of the animals we pursued; there was a respect, a reverence, for our quarry. We spoke in hushed tones of the animals’ intelligence, wit and spirit.

But the pelting season was pitiful and sad.

Last year, Americans were horrified when “Dateline NBC” aired the terrible conditions for domestic dogs and cats raised and killed for their fur in China. Immediately, the Oregon Legislature moved to ban the trade in dog and cat fur. Yet we accept the same conditions for foxes and minks in several fur farms across our state. Why is that?

It is time for Oregonians to confront reality. Instead of focusing on the rantings between activists and the fur industry, the media need to show the plain truth about life and death on the fur farm. Let’s show the gassing of minks or the electrocution of foxes on the six o’clock news.

Only when Americans acknowledge those horrors will our elected officials take action to protect these animals. If they don’t, then perhaps voters will take the initiative and do it themselves.

Three months ago, my Grandma passed away. For the first time in many years, I returned to Franklin. After the funeral, I walked across my grandparents’ back yard to see what was left of the mink yard. Years ago, Grandma decided to “pelt out,” meaning every one of the thousands of minks on the farm was killed.

Now, the roofs of the mink sheds are rusted and collapsed. Vines and weeds grow up through the wire mesh pens. The wooden beams and nest boxes are rotten and dilapidated.

The smell of death is gone. The images, however, will stay with me forever.

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 04:15 AM PDT