22 November 2021 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS launches new report ‘Cruelty, COVID-19 and changing times – it is time to end Australia’s contribution to the cruel fur trade’, highlighting the pandemic risks of this outdated and cruel industry and recommendations for how Australia can ban it.
Australia currently imports and sells tens of thousands of fur items every year, primarily from China and Europe, in the form of fashion accents such as coat trims, handbag accessories or even children’s toys. There are no laws in Australia which govern the use of fur, apart from customs regulations which prohibit the importing and exporting of dog and cat fur.
Yet since April 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been detected on more than 440 mink fur farms across twelve countries in Europe and North America.
To address these risks and highlight the extreme animal cruelty and lack of consumer support of fur, FOUR PAWS has launched a new report detailing alarming aspects of the fur trade, and global progress away from it.
On fur farms, which produce 95% of global fur products, millions of animals are subjected to horrific treatment, cramped conditions, poor hygiene, stress, injuries, disease, and minimal veterinary care. The appalling conditions make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that we must improve the way that humans treat animals. As three-fourths of emerging human infectious diseases come from animals, the world’s leading scientists and experts have shown the link between the brutal exploitation of animals and pandemic risk. Central to this are the pandemic risks associated with fur farming, with COVID-19 spreading across hundreds of fur farms in the past 18 months alone."
Elise Burgess, FOUR PAWS Australia
The majority of previous disease outbreaks originated from intensive animal rearing and trading, and once again, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed how animal trading can have devastating global consequences.
Given these grave risks and the scale of horrific animal suffering for this fashion trade, Australia must take action and end its contribution to the cruel fur trade.
Australia lags on global action against fur
Countries around the world have responded to growing public opposition to fur by banning both fur farming and the sale of fur, as the most effective means to bring this cruel industry to an end. Many similar jurisdictions to Australian states and territories can serve as models for Australia.
Animal Justice Party MLC Emma Hurst said she will be raising the findings of the report in NSW Parliament and urge the Government to ban the sale of fur products in NSW.
“Our laws not only condone the killing of sentient animals for the fur trade, but we continue to support this cruel industry by allowing animal fur from foxes, possums, rabbits, racoon dogs and other animals to be imported and sold within our state. We have been working with multiple councils across the country to become 'fur free councils'. We will continue our campaign until the fur trade is officially gone. The future of fashion is fur-free.”
Emma Hurst, MLC
In response to the report, a letter signed by a coalition of cross-party MPs including representatives from the Animal Justice Party, Labor, Greens, Christian Democrats, and Independents Alex Greenwich and Justin Field MP was also delivered to the Premier on Friday.
A 2021 YouGov poll found that 71% of surveyed Australians were concerned about the fur industry. Meanwhile, repeated FOUR PAWS investigations have uncovered mislabelled items for sale – either real animal fur sold as faux, or real fur products with no labels at all.
“Australian consumers are at risk of being misled into purchasing items which do not align with their values, as demonstrated by repeated evidence of mislabelling of fur products available for purchase, raising major concerns about the lack of basic traceability and transparency for fur products sold in Australia."
Elise Burgess, FOUR PAWS Australia
The Frightening Reality of the Fur Industry
Cruelty, COVID-19 and changing times – it is time to end Australia’s contribution to the cruel fur trade for more information about the pandemic risks of fur farming, recommendations for the Australian market, and references.
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 and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – 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, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au