Fur, leather, and wool – materials made from the skin and coats of animals – can be found in the wardrobes of many Americans. Most of these people purchase animal-based garments without thinking at all about their production – a luxury the animals abused in the making of them cannot afford.
Some species of animals, such as mink and foxes, are raised on fur farms specifically for the “commodity” of their fur. Spending their lives cramped into small wire cages, these animals are treated like inanimate objects rather than living, feeling animals. Fur farmers use the cheapest means possible to slaughter the mink while preserving their fur: suffocation, anal electrocution, gassing and poisoning are common.
Leather is a co-product of the meat industry, either taken from animals in certain countries by using horrendous practices (cows who are sloppily killed by having their throats slit, or skinned while still conscious), or taken as part of the industrialized meat industry, meaning the purchase of leather directly supports factory farming and contributes to its profitability. Tanning leather also requires a huge quantity of chemicals, which creates waste that is responsible for polluting nearby communities and ecosystems.
Many people mistakenly think that wool is cruelty-free – the animal didn’t have to die to produce it, right? Unfortunately, many sheep bred for wool suffer from extremely cruel practices: castrated without anesthesia, tail-docked, sheared in a way that cuts off pieces of skin along with their wool and, ultimately, transported like cargo, often on long journeys during which many die, or, for those who survive, subjected to having their throats slit upon arrival at their destination . They are slaughtered for their meat, known as “mutton,” and many of their lambs are slaughtered to be eaten while still babies. Furthermore, certain breeds of sheep are grown by farmers to have longer, thicker coats than would be necessary in nature, resulting in heatstroke and flies nesting in the folds of their skin.
- Why Should We Care?
- Animal Testing
- Companion Animals
- What to Do?