Wool: Not a Fur Alternative

Hopefully, if you read my last post about fur, you are now thinking of great alternative fabrics for warm clothes. Before you make any purchases, I would like to remind you all that wool is not a cruelty-free alternative to fur. Since sheep need to be shorn to remove their excess wool, people don’t really see anything wrong with the wool industry. But, just like many other industries that depend on animals for profit, the wool industry has a cruel and dark side that needs to be exposed.

This video from PETA will give you an understanding of just how bad this industry is. Warning: Graphic Content

The Myth

Many people believe we are doing sheep a favor because they need to be sheared. This is a myth. Wild sheep grown enough wool to protect them from themselves from the winter and keep cool in the summer. They shed their winter coat naturally and do not need to be sheared.

Genetic Manipulation

Domesticated sheep have been selectively bred to have thick and heavy coats. In Australia, where 30 percent of the world’s wool is from, the most common sheep is the Merino. Merinos have been specifically bred to have wrinkly skin to produce more wool. Unlike wild sheep, they cannot shed their fleece and their coats are so thick that some die of heat exhaustion.

Mulesing

Due to the wrinkly skin which contains skin folds, the wool collects unnatural amounts of urine and moisture. This moisture build up attracts flies to lay their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the sheep. This is called “flystrike.” To combat flystrike, mulesing is used. Mulesing involves slicing cresent-shaped slices of skin from the buttock area of lambs to produce scar that is free of wool. This reduces incidence of flystrike around the buttocks, but not for the rest of their bodies. Mulesing is all done without pain killers or anesthetics. Here is more information on mulesing.

Shearing

Sheep are shorn in the spring, before they would naturally shed their winter coats. To get all of the shearing done in time, it starts at a time that is not healthy for the sheep.  As a result, an estimated one million sheep die from exposure to the weather after premature shearing.

Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast work without regard for the sheep’s welfare. One eye witness said, “The shearing shed must be one of the worst places in the world for cruelty to animals… I have seen shearers punch sheep with their shears or their fists until the sheep’s nose bled. I have seen sheep with half their faces shorn off …”

Live Exports

Once sheep age and their wool production declines, they are sold for slaughter. This results in the cruel live export of more than 7 million sheep every year from Australia to the Middle East and North Africa. In Europe, the tightly packed animals are subjected to long-distance trips without food or water. Their final destination is frequently a country with minimal slaughter regulations.

What You Can Do

Like I said in my last post about fur, there are alternative options. These alternatives include cotton, synthetic shearling and other cruelty-free fibers. Polartec Wind Pro is made primarily from recycled plastic soda bottles and is a
high-density fleece with four times the wind resistance of wool that also wicks away moisture. Be aware of other types of wool such as mohair, pashmina, shahtoosh, or cashmere. No matter what it’s called, any kind of wool means suffering for animals.

Also, buy clothing from retailers that have pledged not to sell Australian Merino wool products until mulesing and live exports have ended. These retailers include American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale, H&M and Limited Brands.

What do you think about the wool industry? Did any of this information surprise you?

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Fight Fur: The Fur Industry Exposed

As the seasons are changing and winter is fast approaching, it’s about that time to start getting warm clothes to protect us from the cold. For some people it is a way to update their wardrobe and check out all of the latest fashions. Looking at the fall fashions, I noticed a trend: fur. Although I know people have been wearing fur for centuries, I still can’t believe people think wearing a dead animal is cute.The fur industry is barbaric and cruel. In the words of PETA, “Fur is Dead.” For me, this is the season to fight fur, not wear it.

Fur Farms

Eighty five percent of the industry’s skins come from animals living captive on fur farms,  which is more than 30 million animals a year. Fur farms are used to mass produce animals used for fur. These farms can hold thousands of animals and designed to maximize profit at the expense of the animals.

Animals on fur farms live their entire lives—only a fraction of their normal life spans—in cramped, wire-mesh cages where  many of the animals suffer greatly from the confinement. The animals are not given proper health care because the farmers don’t care about their health; they only need their fur.

Before being skinned, the animals are electrocuted, gassed, poisoned or have their necks broken. The animals are killed in ways, humane or not, that will preserve the quality of the fur. Often times the animals are still alive while being skinned and and their naked bloody bodies are thrown into a pile of others where they can live up to another 10 minutes.

More than half of the fur in the U.S. comes from China, where there are no penalties for abusing animals. Here is a video of “Chinese Fur Farms Exposed in 60 Seconds.”

Warning: Contains Graphic Footage.

Trapped in the Wild

Animals in the wild may be caught in steel-jaw traps that slam down on their legs, often cutting to the bone; Conibear traps, which crush their necks with 90 pounds of pressure per square inch; or water-set traps, which leave beavers, muskrats, and other animals struggling for more than nine minutes before drowning. These animals can suffer for days from blood loss, shock, dehydration, frostbite, gangrene, and attacks by predators.

How to Fight Fur

There is no reason people should wear fur. If it is for fashion, there and many designers who do not use fur. If it is for the look, faux fur can look just as good. If it is for the warmth, there are many warm and cruelty-free fabrics to choose from.

This Fur Free Action Guide from the Humane Society of the United States can provide tips on how to stay fur-free. These tips include supporting fur-free retailers and designers, write letters to retailers and designers who support fur and speaking up and educating others.

You can also sign a pledge at PETA to be fur-free. Invited others to also sign the pledge.

What are some of your favorite  fur-free retailers, designers or brands?

Peta Does Porn?

No doubt PETA has used some racy tactics in the past to catch peoples attention, but with the announcement of PETA launching a pornographic website, PETA.xxx, it has people wondering if PETA is going too far to promote its messages.

PETA.xxx is planned to launch in December and is going to be used to promote animal rights and vegan diet messages.

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said the site will feature “tantalizing” videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal rights messages.

PETA has used semi-nude celebrities including Eva Mendez, Elizabetta Canalis and Pamela Anderson in its “I’d Rather Go Naked” campaign. PETA has also previously worked with porn stars, including adult film stars Sasha Grey, Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson to get messages across. Rajt said, “the racy things we do are sometimes the most effective way that we can reach particular individuals.”

Some people may love PETA’s cause, but not support PETA because of the extreme tactics used. Sometimes when I tell people I am a supporter of Peta, they call me “one of those crazy PETA people.” Could it be these extreme tactics have pushed people away and given potential supporters bad impressions?

Being a public relations students I can’t help but wonder if PETA.xxx is a great tactic or a bad PR stunt. I will discuss both.

Great Tactic

Who’s to say PETA.xxx is going to be an absolute failure, when its already gained headlines around the world? It seems PETA’s idea of creating buzz about its cause is already working. This story had been covered by newspapers, TV, radio and blogs.

Also, PETA has used racy tactics in the past that have been successful and people seem to be attracted to sex. If PETA can stun people who are expecting the worse from this website with tasteful content, it just may be a success. Just because the people are nude, does not mean it cannot be done in a tasteful manor.

Bad PR Stunt

PETA has had some harsh critisim in the past for exploiting women in its campaigns and messages. PETA.xxx could be another piece used against PETA in this argument.

Also, exploiting porn may not be the best way for PETA to get its massage across. Although controversial tactics may have worked for PETA in the past, a pornographic website may be taking it too far.

Another concern is who PETA is trying to target with peta.xxx. Although it is trying to reach a new audience, it seems the target is a little off. People who are looking at porn certainly do not want to see it with pictures of dead animals. It may catch men’s attention, but a large number of PETA’s supporters are women and this can be a dangerous way for PETA to alienate its them. This may cost PETA its credibility, reputation and image.

What do you think? Is PETA taking its racy tactics too far? Do you think this is a great tactic or bad PR stunt?

Puppy Mills: The Real Cost of The Doggy in the Window

The other day I was watching on of my favorite shows, Animals Cops, on Animal Planet. Although the show can be sad at times, the episode I saw was especially upsetting. In the episode, the SPCA confiscated hundreds of dogs from a dog-breeding facility where the dogs were kept in horrifying conditions. This dog-breeding facility was called a “puppy mill.” Little did I know, puppy mills are common practice.

Image taken from sonomapets.com

Puppy Mills

According to the ASPCA, a puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. These puppy mills keep dogs in inhumane conditions to cut costs. Dogs are often kept in small wire cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs. They are confined to these cages for their entire life, in filthy conditions, and denied veterinary care.

Female dogs are bred as many times as possible with little to no recovery time in between. Puppies are torn away from their mothers and sold to brokers who pack them into crates for transport and resale to pet stores. The breeding dogs are sick, wounded and malnourished. The mom and dad of the puppy at the pet store are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive, along with the many puppies born with overt physical problems that make them unsalable to pet stores. When the dogs breeding usefulness is over, they can be killed or dumped.

Here is footage from a puppy mill rescue by the Humane Society of the United States

How to Avoid Puppies from Mills

Adopt a Puppy: Every year millions of dogs die in shelters waiting for a home. The best way to find your perfect dog is through a shelter or rescue organization. By adopting, you can help a dog that may have otherwise been euthanized and help end puppy mills by decreasing demand for puppies. Although you may have your heart set on a specific breed, there are many loving dogs who would be perfect pets. If you are set on a specific breed, but want to adopt, there are also breed-specific dog rescue organizations. Find adoptable puppies in your area at PetFinder.com

Find a Responsible Breeder: Responsible breeders take good care of their puppies and provide them with a loving and healthy environment. Never buy from a breeder before seeing where the dogs are raised and meeting the puppies parents. Most responsible breeders want to meet you and make sure the puppy is going to a good home.
If a breeder refuses this, it can be an indication that the puppy is from a puppy mill.

Do Not Buy From Pet Stores: Pet stores are what keep puppy mills in business and the puppies in demand. Although pet stores will deny buying from puppy mills, chances are they do or buy from brokers who buy from puppy mills. Pet stores such as Petland have been caught buying its dogs from puppy mills.

Do Not Be Fooled by Websites: Puppy mill websites can be masked with cute pictures of puppies and claim to have high standards of breeding and care. Many puppy millers pose as small family breeders online, in newspapers and magazine ads. Online, there is no way of knowing if these claims are true. Do not trust them. Also beware because many of these websites can be scams.

Have you ever adopted or rescued a dog? If so, I’d like to hear about it.