From Rooftops to Retailers

FOUR PAWS, one of the world’s largest animal welfare organisations, began because of fur


In the late 1980s, a small group of young animal welfare activists in Austria were regularly meeting to plan actions aimed at increasing awareness of animal cruelty within the fur industry.  

From climbing rooftops of fur farms to bring the public gaze to the animals suffering within, to street demonstrations displaying skinned animal carcasses to shoppers within Vienna’s high fashion districts, FOUR PAWS was there to show the public what was happening behind closed doors for fashion.  

“Our organisation emerged when we opposed fur farms in Austria, more than a quarter of a century ago.” 

Heli Dungler, founder of FOUR PAWS 

Working as an anti-fur farming expert with the Austrian Environment Ministry in the late 1980s, Heli Dungler knew that he needed to shine a light on the immense suffering of animals used for their fur. 

Heli Dungler, FOUR PAWS founder, in a public demonstration against the cruelty of fur.

And it worked.   

In 1996, after eight years of campaigning, we saw the closure of Austria’s last fox fur farm. But the FOUR PAWS mission to end the suffering of animals abused for fur, and fashion, had only just begun. 

All over the world, FOUR PAWS campaigns for a permanent ban on the keeping and killing of fur-bearing animals and an end of the usage of real fur in the fashion industry. FOUR PAWS also want countries to ban the import of and trade in fur.   

And it isn’t just about fur.  

“In Austria, we were able to bring about the closure of all existing fur manufactures, but as fur coats started becoming unfashionable with time, fur-trimmed accessories became fashionable. Now our fight to protect animals from the horrors of the fur trade continues.”

Heli Dungler, founder of FOUR PAWS 

Since launching over 30 years ago, FOUR PAWS now looks beyond street actions, to focus on the decision makers responsible for the many animals used in the fashion trade – retailers, shoppers and brands.  

Today, a major part of FOUR PAWS’ advocacy involves talking directly with these decision makers who buy and sell animal furs and textiles, to build their understanding and value of animal welfare as a crucial component of their fashion experience.  

FOUR PAWS is encouraging all fashion companies to show leadership in improving their business practices and promoting how businesses and supply chains can succeed without the use of cruel animal products. More directly, the role that each of us play as consumers of clothing, as the ones who decide whether animals (or their skin, fur, wool or feathers at least!) are desirable for our wardrobes.


In essence, FOUR PAWS’ Wear It Kind program is a natural evolution from Heli Dungler’s actions of the 1980s. 

Where 30 years ago shoppers needed to see, often for the first time, where fur came from, in today’s fashion world and with the rise of ethical shoppers, we can instead see the possibility for significant and permanent change. 

FOUR PAWS would like to see the suffering of an animal for fashion and textiles to be something that every consumer and brand considers at the point of purchase, and perhaps even, to value and support the animal-free alternatives instead.

Posted by Elise Burgess

Mink at furfarm


SIGN the open letter calling on the Victorian and NSW Premiers to lead the way, and ban the sale of fur


Share now!