Fur trade: When animals die for people

Via PETA: a heart-rending video of animals being skinned alive for their fur

If you don’t have the stomach for it, here’s what the video is about: In China’s Hebei province, workers are skinning raccoon dogs alive. PETA claims that over half of the finished fur garments imported for sale in the USA are sourced from China. It’s gross, it’s nauseating and it’s horribly cruel. And it makes me want to step into that video and beat the balls out of those Chinese assholes who are bludgeoning those raccoon dogs and skinning them while they are still twitching. What are those bloodless bastards made of? Do us a good turn and recruit them to fight terrorism instead.

I’m certainly not a fan of the philosophies of PETA and CUPA and suchlike animal rights movements that, in my not-so-valuable opinion, cry themselves hoarse for most of the wrong reasons. Their passion for animal rights is misled and most often obstructive to genuine causes, as in the case of urban stray dog control and the eradication of dogs from wildlife sanctuaries (see my earlier post on Sultanpur).

But this video, coming from PETA as it does, is genuinely upsetting.

Let me put this clearly: I am not against farming animals for food but I am opposed to the hunting of wild animals for food or trade or whatever other purpose they may serve (in this category fall all the reasons the Chinese employ to persecute wildlife). But the fur trade is something else. It is more dangerous than the trade in ivory or the killing of animals for bushmeat or the hunting of tigers and rhinos for their body parts. In terms of severity, it is perhaps surpassed only by whaling. And the primary reason for that is the legitimacy accorded to it.

Fur isn’t a necessity to anyone other than the Inuit. It’s a high-end luxury. And so much cruelty for the luxury and profitability of some people is just plain wrong. And that needs to be fought.

Those who can afford fur don’t necessarily care where it comes from and how it is made. If the fur trade were like shearing sheep (where the animals remain alive) or extracting leather (where the animals are dead anyway), I wouldn’t be writing this post. In the fur trade, ethics and trade pass each other by without mutual recognition. On the one side is a multi-billion dollar industry endorsed by some of the biggest names in the fashion apparel business. On the other, there is the heartless treatment of animals that are killed for their fur.

PETA deserves credit for getting this video out to the world. If it doesn’t bring up your lunch, I am sure it will make you think twice before you wear fur (when you have the money for it).

But then, I also have a word or three for the other causes that PETA supports and encourages. I’m an animal lover, but I am also (in my belief) rational in my choice of chauvinisms. I am indifferent to cats. I love dogs. But I don’t like having either of them in wildlife sanctuaries. Because dogs and cats aren’t wildlife. They are adjuncts of our so-called human civilization and, much like humans, out of place and dangerous in a wild ecosystem.

If left with a choice, I’d risk not keeping a pet than keep it in a way that can negatively impact its surroundings, and itself. I think that is the cause that PETA and CUPA and suchlike should really advocate: As far as possible, leave animals alone. If that cannot be done, interact with them, study them, protect them in order to leave them alone. Farm them ethically. Eat them if you will. But in that case, breed them to be eaten. And breed them in humane and ethical ways. And if they must be killed to be eaten, since meat from an animal or bird that died of natural causes is considered neither palatable nor hygienic, kill them painlessly. But never, never hunt them.

That video is a bit of a tummy-turner. It came via email, along with a petition. Since I do not sign online petitions for the reason that I think my contribution to any cause should be in the form of time and effort, this post is warranted.

And anyone caught wearing fur must be forced to sit down in front of a giant screen with their eyelids taped open and made to watch this video in slow motion and surround sound.

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One thought on “Fur trade: When animals die for people

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