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Have a Heart This Valentine’s Day: Do Not Buy, or Wear Fur

National Anti-Fur Day, now in its 25th year, has evolved into a week-long event centered around Valentine’s Day, asking people to have a heart for fur-bearing animals. On various days, activists across Canada, in 18 cities and 6 provinces, are participating in protests against the fur trade. Every year in Canada, more than 2 million animals are killed by the fur industry, and over 75 million worldwide. These animals suffer tremendously, all in the name of fashion, and profit.

Polar Bear skins
Wikimedia Commons: courtesy of Hannes Grobe

Canada’s fur trade is booming again, thanks to demand from China’s new capitalists. The Chinese economic’s ferocious appetite for Canadian furs has single-handedly revived a dying North American and European industry. An article put out by National Post, says that Bob Desbiens a trapper and retired North Bay elementary teacher, predicts that the price of a top polar bear skin being sold at the wild fur auction at Fur Harvesters Auction house in North Bay, Ontario - one of the few places anywhere on the planet where an interested party can shop for a Canadian polar bear - will sell for close to $20,000. Desbiens says that “China is crazy for Canadian Polar bear furs - the rarest gems in a booming international fur trade - and crazier still for wild northern fur of every description: martin, mink, otter, lynx, for, red fox, Arctic fox, beaver, and even raccoon.” Vancouver-based taxidermist, Eugen Klein, owner of Capilano Furs & Taxidermy Studios in North Vancouver since 1956, says “I have a Chinese client looking for two mounted bears.” At the auction, the Kleins bought 10 skins, but his wife Edith did not appear too happy. “I think one of the bears I bought was a dog,” she said. “I’m just hoping not too much of a dog.”

China also wants polar bear furs because they may not be around much longer. “A polar bear is a rare thing, like a diamond,” says Janet Han, whom arrived in Canada with her husband Steve, to shop for skins they can manufacture into rugs. She says, in China, a rug can sell for as much as $80,000, and a stuffed bear for as much as $100,000.

Canada narrowly won an international vote in March that, had it lost - and the Americans and Russians were in opposition - would have banned the international polar bear trade. The next vote is in 2016. For now, about 600 bears are harvested annually, with about 300 sold at auction.

According to Humane Society International,

“Although the fur industry does its best to keep the cruelty out of sight, suffering is a common ingredient in both methods of procuring fur, be it fur factory farming or trapping. Many, perhaps more than half, of these animals are killed specifically for fur trim—it is not a by-product.

Over one and a half million animals, primarily minks and foxes, are killed each year on fur factory farms in Canada. These animals live in horrific conditions in tiny, filthy cages, are denied basic care and denied the ability to satisfy their most basic instinctual behaviours. Their suffering peaks at the time of their slaughter, when they are killed in one of four ways—gassing, neck-breaking, lethal injection or anal electrocution.

Trapping is the other method of acquiring fur. Each year in Canada, just under one million animals are caught in antiquated cruel traps (leghold traps, conibear traps, snares, drowning traps) for their fur. These animals are often left for days, without access no food, water or shelter, in extreme temperatures. One in four of these victims of fashion will chew off their own limbs in an attempt to escape, only to later die of blood loss, gangrene or other secondary infections. When the trappers finally come to collect the animals, they stomp or beat the animals to death. This terrible fate is not restricted to the targeted animals either. Another estimated 9 million "trash" animals, including our familiar companion animals (dogs and cats), birds and even several endangered species, are accidentally caught and killed by fur traps each year. These animals are simply discarded since they have no economic value.”

Global Action Network states that

“Several years ago, the European Union passed a progressive resolution to ban the use of leg-hold traps in all its member countries, as well as the import of furs coming from any country still using the leg-hold trap. Canada, determined to continue using leg-hold traps, led the charge to undermine this import ban, by threatening the European Union with severe economic punishment and challenges under GATT and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Finally, Canada convinced the European Union to exempt Canada from their fur ban. They proposed an International Agreement, and mislead the EU into believing that this agreement would mean better welfare for trapped animals all around, and would lead to the eventual banning of the leg-hold trap. in reality, this “agreement” puts a seal of approval on cruel traps. The new agreement is a deliberate attempt on the part of the Canadian fur industry to deceive the Canadian and international public. The agreement still allows for the same traps that have been used for 40 years in Canada, including the conventional leg-hold trap,” which is banned in 63 countries.

Most people think that the fur trade is only using the skins of wild animals, but there is an even darker side to this industry. In addition to wild animals, approximately 2 million dogs and cats are killed each year for the fur industry. According to The Association For The Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, “[T]he majority of these animals are killed in China, Taiwan and the Philippines. Dog and cat skins are manufactured into fur products that are traded and sold all over the globe.” The Canadian Textile and Labeling Act does not require the labeling of animal pelts or hides, therefore, companies are able to disguise the source of the fur to unsuspecting consumers. “While the European Union and the United States have banned this cruelty, it remains legal to import and sell dog and cat fur in Canada,” says The Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

Besides full length fur coats, and bearskin rugs, many of the furs are used for fur trim on coats, gloves, mittens, and boots. A very popular company, and very much in the public eye as their coats have become all the rage this year with fashionistas across North America, is Canada Goose. They claim to use only humane methods of plucking, and trapping to acquire their goose feathers, and fur trim. They boast on their website that they do not live-pluck the birds, but what they forget to mention is that they do dead-pluck the birds that have been slaughtered for meat by Canada Packers, one of the largest, and cruelest slaughterhouses in Canada. Also, because there are no laws against the use of inhumane traps in Canada, Canada Goose can easily say they are using methods approved in the International Agreement, with the European Union.

Many concerned Canadian citizens, and musicians are finding unique ways to protest the fur industry. GaiaisiMusic, has produced a video that not only protests the fur trade, but is educational as well. In a press release written by Gabriel Nicolau, he says that “Armed with nothing but a simple melody, acoustic instruments, and a small army of canine sympathizers, Toronto-based singer and rapper Galaisi, has declared war on the global fur industry. In the first winter since its original release, the censored version of the music video “Tell A Friend” has been watched by over ninety thousand people, many of whom are expressing shock and outrage upon viewing the reality behind the fur trim decorations that have become such a common sight on winter coats this year.” Nicolau says that the “video’s juxtaposition of some of Toronto’s cutest dogs (the band is lead by a coyote look-alike by the name of Kobu) with imagery of wild animals caught in traps and caged in fur farms has sparked fury at what many are just discovering to be real dog’s fur that is used on Canada Goose, as well as other popular jackets.”

If you want to protest your tax dollars being spent by the heavily subsidized Fur Council of Canada, so that they can wage expensive public relations campaigns to disguise the bloody origins of their product, join a protest this week in your area. Even if you are not buying fur, your tax dollars are supporting this unnecessary cruelty, so that the bodies of these beautiful and innocent creatures, can adorn fashionistas, and corporations, and manufacturers can profit off of the barbaric deaths of these animals.

Have a heart this Valentine’s, and show you care!

22 actions in 18 cities in 6 provinces!


Calgary Animal Rights Effort
Saturday, February 15

Voice for Animals Humane Society
Friday, February 7




Vancouver Animal Defence League
Saturday February 8, Thursday February 13, Saturday February 15



A local activist is advertising in the local paper, Recorder and Times for people to donate their fur coats so they can be brought to the Aspen Valley Wildlife.

Kingston Animal Trust
Saturday, February 15

Voice for Animals London / Vegan Activists of London
Saturday, February 15

Ottawa Animal Defense League
February 8 and February 15

Aurora's Animal Rights Advocates
Saturday, February 8 and Friday, February 14

Saturday, February 15

Brock Students for Animal Liberation
Saturday, February 8

KOALA (Kitchener Ontario Animal Liberation Alliance)
Saturday, February 8

Windsor Animal Action Group (WAAG)




Nova Scotia Humane Society
Saturday, February 15


KARA KebɛkAnimalRightsAssociation
Sunday, February 9

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