Not can they talk, rather can they suffer?



Campus Times
April 4, 2003


by Bailey Porter
Photography Editor

In this time of war some of you reading this might question why I am choosing to write about the horror of the fur industry. But the way I see it, the topics are one in the same.

It is in a call for compassion toward all living beings that I write this column and urge you to understand the disgusting realities of the fur industry and the need for ending this cruelty toward animals.

Flipping through a Bloomingdale's catalog, I was sickened by the sight of primped up models donning appalling fur apparel. To me, these getups speak nothing of elegance or riches, but of a barbaric need to conquer and destroy and parade around in the remnants of a once living, breathing animal.

It might not be so obviously disgusting, just thumbing through a magazine, if one doesn't know about the trip that fur took before it ended up on a hanger.

Foxes, minks, chinchillas, raccoons and other animals raised on fur farms live their entire lives in tiny, filth-encrusted cages. They pace back and forth from pure boredom. Some of the animals will result to self-mutilation or cannibalism of their cagemates. Minks by nature are solitary animals. Males can be up to two and a half feet long and females reach two-thirds that size. They are generally kept in cages no larger than one foot by three feet and are crammed four to a cage.

I would like to see those people running the farms subjected to such treatment. I would not listen to the claim that it's their job. I don't care. Get another job. And that goes for all the big businesses that allow this to continue-Bloomingdales, Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom, Macys and Neiman Marcus.

No federal laws protect the animals on fur farms. So while some would argue that fur farms are better than traps being set in the wild, think again. The gross conditions of their caged existence are by no means the end of their suffering. Genital electrocution is one of the ways that animals are destroyed once a new shipment of coats is needed for the semi-annual sale at one of these department stores. An alligator clamp is attached to the animal's ear and another to its genitals. A switch is flipped and jolts of electricity runs through its body until its heart stops. The electrical current will stop the animals' hearts, but will not kill them. In many cases, the animals remain fully conscious.

Neck "popping" or "snapping" often becomes the cheap alternative for killing the smaller animals. It may take up to five minutes after the vertebra is separated from the socket before the animals become brain-dead.

Other methods include clubbing, gassing, lung stomping and chemical injection. Is our superiority in the animal kingdom somehow heightened by this perverted force that we exert on those that we make inferior? It's completely vulgar and cruel.

Forty million animals are killed each year for their fur. Investigators with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent to a fur farm said, "Two cages dripped with the corpses of foxes newly killed and skinned. One fox's body, stripped of fur except around the ankles, lay in the dirt. The smell of decay permeated the place."

Neiman Marcus has 27 fur departments in the United States. If this trend-setting company stops buying from the fur farms, a huge blow will have been dealt to the fur industry. We no longer need to clothe ourselves with the fur of animals to stay warm. We have come a long way and can even use synthetic materials that look like real animal fur.

Bailey Porter, a sophomore journalism major, is photography editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at porterb@ulv.edu.