January 21, 2020 – As a member of the Fur Free Alliance (FFA), the global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, together with other NGOs, warns against the new 'WelFur' label. The certification programme is run by the fur industry itself and is aimed at European fur farms. A new FFA report is due to be presented in the European Parliament today, which points out the serious shortcomings of the programme. The report criticises WelFur as a cynical PR tool designed to make animal cruelty acceptable. According to the industry association Fur Europe, only WelFur-certified fur should be sold at European fur auctions from 2020.
In response to widespread criticism of animal cruelty on fur farms, the fur industry itself is now introducing the WelFur certification programme, which has been widely criticised by renowned veterinarians.
According to FOUR PAWS and other FFA members, the initiative does not guarantee that the basic needs of foxes and minks kept in small cages are met, nor does it protect individual animals from physical harm or behavioural disorders. Normal behaviours include digging in the wild for foxes and access to bathing facilities for mink. The WelFur programme does not take these important needs into account. Furthermore, the report provides indications of conflicts of interest when it comes to the certification. The Finnish Fur Association owns 38% of the shares of the company Luova, which is responsible for auditing Finnish fur farms.
“WelFur is nothing more than a PR stunt on the part of the fur industry to justify the cruel keeping and brutal killing of animals for the fashion industry. Foxes, minks and racoon dogs are eager predators, whose diverse needs cannot be met in tiny cages on grid floors. No cover-up tactic from the WelFur programme can hide the fact that fur farming causes unspeakable animal suffering and must be banned,”
says Thomas Pietsch, wildlife expert at FOUR PAWS.
According to the European Fur Association, many fashion companies are already showing interest in WelFur-certified furs. FOUR PAWS is urgently warning the industry and consumers about the new initiative and urging them to not fall victim to this crude marketing ploy that legitimises the cruel death of millions of animals every year.
Therefore, FOUR PAWS and the FFA call on policy makers in the EU and the member states not to support the WelFur initiative and instead to focus on carrying out urgently needed regular inspections on fur farms to investigate violations of existing EU regulations. Numerous investigations show that practices on European fur farms do not meet the most basic animal welfare needs or existing EU requirements.
Fur farming is already banned, phased out or prohibited due to higher farming standards in the following EU member states: Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Belgium. Ireland and Bulgaria are also currently negotiating a ban on fur farming. Denmark, Finland and Poland, on the other hand, are among the largest fur producers in the EU.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, orangutans and elephants – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, Hungary, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in 12 countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au