PETA’s Unfair Attack on the Fur Industry

The fur industry is often targeted unfairly by members of groups like PETA. While PETA is technically against using animals in any way (including keeping them as pets!), they never seem to be as aggressive towards the meat eating populace as they are to fur wearers. In the past, PETA has gone out of their way to interrupt fashion shows, attack designers outside of their stores, and stage gruesome public displays against fur. They usually make the claim that no one should wear fur because it is an excessive luxury and the fur industry is wasteful, capturing the animals only for their fur and not using any other parts.

Donna Karan, Protest, Fur, PETA

PETA hard at work annoying shoppers.

The argument that the fur indsutry is “wasteful” is completely unfounded. While we may not think of animals like beaver, muskrat, raccoon and rabbit as conventional food, many people do consume these animals as a part of their diet. What isn’t consumed by humans is used in other ways. Mink oil is used in cosmetics, the carcasses are composted to make organic fertilizer. (In Europe, mink is sometimes now used to make biofuels!) Much of the wild-caught animal carcasses are left in the wilderness, to complete the cycle and become food for hungry birds, mice and other animals through the long cold winter. Fur Is Green has a great video on their site about the mink farms in Denmark. You can view it here, and see for yourself how the animals are treated from life to death, as well as how the rest of the mink is used.

Why would PETA waste so much time on such a small industry? The number of animals harvested annually for the fur industry barely makes a dent in our animal consumption as a whole. Of the animals slaughtered every year in North America, almost 10 billion animals are used for food, 6 million farmed-raised mink and foxes are killed for their fur, and about 6 millions wild animals are trapped. So the animals used for fur represent less than 0.1% (0.0012) of the number consumed for food. Add the millions of abandonned animals euthanized in humane shelters, millions more killes on our highways, others used for medical research, etc., and we quickly put the real impact of the fur trade into fair perspective. Put even more simply: most of us eat animals at least once a day; how often do you buy a fur coat?!

Rosa Mori, Furs, Fur Coats,

Not as often as we'd like to! Beautiful fur coats from Rosa Mori Furs.

Perhaps PETA attacks the fur industry in such a disproportionate fashion because they know that most people eat meat and aren’t going to give it up any time soon (barely 3% of the Canada’s population practices vegetarianism, with an even smaller percentage of that number living a vegan lifestyle). Why pick a fight you know you can’t win when it is so easy to prey (excuse the pun) upon a tiny, artisanal, family-run sector that lacks the financial clout to fight back? Come to think of it: if the PETA-folks had any real ethical conviction, instead of harassing women wearing fur, maybe they should be picketing motorcycle gangs for their use of leather!

The USDA has the numbers on the animals slaughtered for food every year.

The US Fur Commission has some great information on the mink industry and its by products.

Donna Karan protest image from Trendhunter
Fur coat images from Rosa Mori.

This article has been updated  July 12, 2011

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6 thoughts on “PETA’s Unfair Attack on the Fur Industry

  1. This is a very good article Suzanne. I think a major point is that they attack the fur trade because it makes them money….Lots of it. They do have many other campaigns going, but banning the use of frogs for students to dissect in College would never capture the same amount ot interest as that of animals being “slaughtered “ for their fur.

    PETA have realised that millions of people have a soft spot for cute-faced furry animals. Millions of people worldwide are now so out of touch with the natural world, that their perception of animals is based not on facts and reality, but on the way animals are portrayed in wildlife documentaries on TV, and their own experience of their much loved pets.

    PETA have become masters at the art of manipulating emotions, and the easiest emotions to whip up are those associated with sweet little animals being tortured and cruelly killed just for their fur to cover the backs of the vacuous and vain wealthy. If they find any evidence that appears to uphold their beliefs, they extrapolate it to make people believe that it is the norm for the whole industry. If they don’t find evidence, they invent it and repeat it so often that people believe it.

    They use facts and videos completely out of context to support their extreme views. They spread propaganda and rhetoric, and in many cases out and out lies, to whip up people’s emotions to high levels of outrage and indignation. The result is that people dig deep into their pockets to contribute to the thirty million + dollar revenue that PETA receives annually. It’s not a bad little business if you have no conscience for your fellow human beings and put animals before humans.

    Their extremism comes from this total illogical concept of “Banning” things that you don’t like. All industries have miscreants who might flout the law or bend the rules. When this happens, it creates an opportunity for the authorities to tweak the guidelines, modify the laws and punish the miscreants, to make it less and less likely that it can happen again. But you never ban a whole industry based on the misbehaviour of a few, putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work, and wiping important revenue sources off the economy.

    PETA consider the Fur industry an exception though. Excuse the pun, but Fur is a soft option. It’s easy to spread false impressions that fur is frivolous and unnecessary when the only impression of fur that millions of people have, comes from seeing the rich wallowing in perceived opulence, and haughty models strutting their stuff on the catwalk in what are sometimes seen as frivolous creations.

    They ignore the millions of people worldwide who use fur not as a symbol of wealth, but as a totally functional, practical and comfortable garment. It is also undeniable that its sensuality can make anyone wearing it feel luxurious. There is nothing wrong with this, but PETA try to make people feel guilty for wearing fur whereas they should feel more guilty wearing a cotton garment that is manufactured using child labour and destroys vast areas of natural habitat and ecosytems.

    They ignore the qualities of fur that makes it so important the fact that it is a natural commodity. They ignore the sustainability, the warmth and practicality, the durability and the degradability. When faced with these facts they respond with totally fallacious arguments, and when this fails resort to supporting verbal and sometimes physical abuse.

    They ignore the fact that the Fur Trade is an example to other industries, in being an industry that goes further than the law requires when it comes to self-regulation and animal welfare concerns. The reason is simple: You don’t get a quality product unless you use responsible and quality methodology.

    Instead PETA focus on The Fur Industry as an easy target that is wide open to attack from people with extremist views on animal right issues. They rely on the support of people who seem incapable of researching and working things out for themselves. 100% of the anti-fur argument originates from PETA and HSUS propaganda. This is repeated over and over again in the media from reporters who should know better but are too lazy to research their subject matter. It is repeated on websites, in debates and in comments, until it takes on a false reality that then becomes perceived as the truth.

    The sad and dangerous thing is that even worldwide Governments are beginning to respond to these fallacies and creating anti-fur laws accordingly. The EU ban on seal product imports is totally and morally unjustified, based on hysterical and erroneous rhetoric from the animal rights lobby. This ban creates hardships on communities in the North that comfortable Southerners just don’t care about. It destroys lifestyles and communities and even lives, but that doesn’t matter as long as the seals lives are safe.

    The move to ban Black Bear fur being used for the Guards Regiment caps in the UK is based solely on PETA’s rhetoric that one black bear is killed for every Guards cap. This is total rubbish; the bears are not killed for their fur. The skins are taken from animals taken through culls and license controlled hunting for environmental or nuisance reasons. They would still be killed even if the MOD didn’t buy them for the Guards’ caps. And yet there are politicians who should know how to think, and who are supposedly intelligent standing up in parliament to say how outrageous it is that The Guards are cruelly killing Black Bears for their fur.

    The Korean Government openly admits that its initial decision to ban fur from the recent Fendi fashion show in Seoul was based on the anti-fur feeling expressed to them on the internet. This is bowing to pressure from lobbyists who are so wrapped up in promoting their own agenda that their concept of Truth has become totally distorted. And yet Governments are starting to base decision making policies on these sources.

    The list goes on, Israel, Ireland, Denmark. Russia, Norway, are all guilty. When elected leaders start to pass laws based on pressure from people who have no experience or factual knowledge of the matter in hand, but base their ideas on emotion and rhetoric originating from extreme pressure groups, then we enter very dangerous waters indeed.

    It is always going to be the case that the vociferous minority, outraged at affronts to their misguided beliefs, are going to shout louder than the silent majority who just get on with life.

    PETA will continue to attack the fur trade until the Industry, Politicians, and the vast silent majority start to react positively with ridicule and disdain to their claims and beliefs. It is only when any credence is given, and worse still positive action taken to appease them that they are empowered. When politicians bow to those that shout the loudest, instead of serving the rights of the silent majority, rot starts to eat away at the corner stone of democracy.

    PETA does nothing for animal welfare; it just diverts attention and money away and fosters discontent, anger and violence. There are many admirable organisations that work quietly and tirelessly away at helping animals in a positive way without having to accumulate millions in their bank accounts. These organisations are put in the shadows by PETA’s high profile well-funded antics.

    PETA should have its charitable status stripped away because at the very least it is breaking one of the rules by lobbying political agendas, and it should be severely stamped down on for being an antisocial extremist organisation.

  2. Excellent article! It’s frustrating when people so easily believe that people who work with animals = cruelty! In my opinion, Peta is responsible for dumbing down the society with their campaigns..

  3. Um. PETA does promote the eschewing of meat all the time. The carnage of the fur industry is one part of humanity’s abuse of our earth-mates for vanity and wants. There is no excuse for the fur industry. It IS a relic, a waste, and inherently cruel.

    There is no way to explain away the desire to wear the corpses of once living, innocent beings. None.

    P.S. The tanning process destroys any and all claim that fur is “Green”.

    • Fur is not tanned, it is dressed. Leather is tanned, and that involves using harsh chemicals to remove all the hairs form the leather. Fur, on the other hand, needs to be treated much more delicately. They use alum salts, which are not harmful to the environment. If they poured toxic chemicals onto fur pelts, they’d be destroyed. At least learn the facts before you start spouting pro-PETA comments.

  4. Another reason why fur is singled out for attack: Not many of us can afford all those beautiful mink and fox coats, so we don’t like the rich people who can. Its easier to gain support by bashing the rich.

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