A mink looks out of its open cage on a farm in China. Fur farmers there face few regulations, and there are no animal welfare laws to protect the animals. Photo: Diego Azubel EPA/REDUX

After bans on the sale of animal fur were passed throughout California, some New York City councilmembers pushed their colleagues this week to back a ban on the sale of fur in the nation’s largest fur retail market.

The bill’s opposition comes from religious groups including black pastors and Hasidic leaders. As the New York Times reported, they say a prohibition would fly in the face of centuries of religious and cultural tradition. Black ministers have staged protests, saying that for many African-Americans, wearing furs is a treasured hallmark of achievement. Hasidic rabbis point to the many men who wear fur hats on the Sabbath. Fur retailers cite the potential loss of the 1,100 jobs created by fur shops and garment manufacturers.

But The Activists Aren’t Buying It: Dan Mathews, a senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Times that the city’s fur-making tradition should not impede a ban. He explained that “Once in a while, we just take a look around and decide that certain practices should not be part of our modern society, and electrocuting and skinning animals alive for a luxury product is something that just turns people’s stomach, and that’s why it’s going by the wayside.” Animal groups point to the fact that China, the world’s largest producer of fur, has few regulations for its fur industry and sting videos have uncovered terrible cruelty.

Fur Bans Growing Across the Country: As Eco Watch explained, “West Hollywood, California was the first city in the U.S. to pass a fur ban in 2011. Berkeley followed in 2017, with San Francisco passing their own fur ban in March 2018 and Los Angeles, the largest city to ban fur, passing the sale and manufacturing of fur within city limits in September 2018. As cities in California have led the way to banning fur in the U.S., a bill in the state assembly was recently proposed that would ban the sale and manufacturing of animal fur throughout the state of California.”

Why This Matters: Unless you’re purchasing fur from an invasive species that’s being culled (and even that might not be humane), the source of fur is incredibly cruel. Animals are often kept in deplorable conditions, spend their entire lives in pain and are electrocuted to be killed. Even a growing number of high-end fashion houses such as Chanel and Prada have made a commitment to stop designing with fur because of the ethics involved with the fur trade. Religious exemptions can be made in New York City’s bill but if one of the biggest cities in the world makes a statement against cruelty then others may soon follow.

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