In 1989, 600 Million Dogs founder Alex Pacheco, then Chairman of PETA, was interviewed in for a New York Times article entitled “From Shop to Lab to Farm, Animal Rights Battle is Felt.” The article states:
“Mr. Pacheco said People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals promotes the wearing of ‘cruelty-free’ clothing made of synthetics or vegetable fibers like cotton. They also go further than some other animal rights groups by opposing the wearing of clothing made from goose down and wool as well as fur and leather.”
“Mr. Pacheco said down, most of which is produced in Europe, is painfully pulled by the handful from live geese. He said sheep are sometimes cut in the shearing and some freeze to death after being shorn as a result of neglect.”
That was 30 years ago. As animal protection goes, fur a relatively easy issue, agreed upon as cruel and unnecessary by both animal rights and animal welfare groups, since fur has long been a luxury item for almost everyone. But it took until February of 2019 for Los Angeles to become the biggest city in the U.S. to ban the sale of fur. In September, the entire state of California became the first state in the U.S. to ban fur trapping. This is a tremendous victory for animals, though only in one state, and the public is still not on board with avoiding animal products like leather, wool, and down. Animals have been killed for their beautiful fur in extremely cruel ways for hundreds of years, and it took widespread public disgust with these horrific practices for this victory to finally happen. The article in Huffington Post says:
“Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who introduced the bill, celebrated its passage on Wednesday.
‘Fur trapping is a cruel practice that has no place in 21st century California,’ Gonzalez wrote on Twitter.”
It makes me sick to think about this, but when I was a little girl, I asked my mother for a rabbit fur coat because it was soft, and maybe even because I loved animals. I had NO CLUE that people would kill beautiful, innocent, adorable little rabbits in order to skin them and sell their fur. I was too young to understand, and no one told me. My mother wasn’t an animal person, and she actually did buy me a rabbit fur coat, which I wore for a while, but it was heavy and uncomfortable. Those rabbits died because of my ignorance. If it’s any consolation—OK, it isn’t really—I was equally ignorant about the suffering of the animals I was eating back then.
But people are much less ignorant about fur now, and that’s not something that just happened by itself.
It took hard-working activists like Alex Pacheco to speak out for animals. He often explained how animals would chew off their own feet to escape from the clutches of a leghold trap, for example. Pacheco was one of the most visible advocates of ending the totally unnecessary and extremely cruel practice of killing animals for their fur. It’s a shame that it took decades for these changes to spread to mainstream America, and there’s no guarantee it will spread beyond California, but we have to take the victories when we can get them.
Bishop, Katherine. “From Shop to Lab to Farm, Animal Rights Battle Is Felt.” New York Times, 14 Jan. 1989. Infotrac Newsstand, http://link.galegroup.com
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