Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cruelty to Furry Animals in China

Warning: Disturbing video content. Parental advisory

Last night I was looking on You Tube for music and news clips and accidentally found a Swiss documentary on the treatment of animals in China. I am a meat eater. In principle, I have nothing against wearing leather shoes or fur, although I wear fur but rarely, if ever. The video I saw raised disturbing questions about the treatment of animals in China. It showed animals crammed into small cages and thrown off of trucks. Since they were on their stomachs, painful internal injuries were a certainty. Some animals wore collars according to the narrator. This indicated that they were once pets who had been stolen from their owners.

What was most disturbing was actual footage of animals that had awakened from being stunned and were skinned alive. There was actual footage of a skinned animal blinking in its death throes. I have read of biblical prohibitions against tearing a limb from an animal that is still alive. I could not think of any modern instance in which this occurred, until I saw this film.

The first part of the film shows numbing squalor. The second part shows animals being skinned alive, struggling, breathing and blinking after being stripped of their skin.

China's fur industry is the largest in the world. It exports $2 billion dollars worth of pelts that are used in other countries. It is not always possible to trace the origin of a fur that may be labeled as coming from elsewhere. The only animal rights laws they have apply to animals in the wild. Once an animal is the possession of a human being, it loses all rights under Chinese law.

Westerners have set up factories from scratch in China. It should be possible to set up breeding facilities and processing plants that use humane procedures. There are ways to skin animals that are dead, and it is possible to skin them when they are dead. This would not be good enough for PETA, but it would satisfy the humanitarian objections of most consumers.

There is a black market in diamonds in the Congo and neighbouring African countries. When it became known that warlords were benefiting from their diamond trade, certification procedures were set up to ensure that no "blood diamonds" made it into the diamond trade. For those who care, it became possible to trace the origin of a diamond and to deny support to warlords. It should be possible to have such procedures in place to assure minimal humane standards for animals that are bred for the fur trade.

China is a paradise for western businessmen, who do not have to worry about labour laws for humans, humane laws for animals or environmental laws for the earth. The ruling elite benefits from this arrangement as the Chinese people foot the bill. It is the hidden cost of the low prices of Chinese goods.

Anyone who wears fur that comes from China is sustaining systematised animal cruelty. If this does not matter to us, it won't matter to the barons of the Chinese fur trade. We can and should insist that the animals that provide fur and leather for human use are treated humanely. Beauty that is rooted in cruelty is truly only skin deep.

Fur in China Part 1

Fur in China Part 2 Sphere: Related Content

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