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hellish tales from China's fur farms

As we continue to look at the groaning of God's creatures, we go from yesterday's bad in Canada's seal hunt to even worse in China's fur farming practices.  I won't lie, this issue encompasses some of the most stomach-wrenching realities I've come across among the many horrors which are perpetrated upon animals here in the U.S. and worldwide. 

I'm very grateful to Michelle Land for writing a response to the video which some of you may have bumped into online, which is virtually impossible to watch.  Michelle, director of Pace University's Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, graciously gave us permission to share "Live Skinning Raccoon Dogs and Other Tales from the Fur Farm" on not one sparrow, originally published at the Animal Blawg:

Sometimes, information presents itself that is so stirring, so disturbing, so utterly inconceivable that even those of us paying attention to these issues are shaken to the core.

Such was the case when I chose to view the undercover video of a Chinese fur farm taken by investigators of Care for the Wild, EAST International, and Swiss Animal Protection.

For those who don’t have the stomach to watch this kind of video, here is a description of the scenes.  The investigation reveals that before the raccoon dogs are skinned alive, they are thrown to the ground with a forceful blow to the head and then bludgeoned with metal rods in attempt to stun the animal.  More often than not, the animal’s bones are broken and they are temporarily stunned rather than dead. Many animals are still alive and struggling desperately when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them.  The video shows workers on these farms cutting the skin and fur from an animal’s leg while the free limbs kick and writhe.  When the fur is finally peeled off over the animals’ heads, their naked, bloody bodies are thrown onto a pile.  Reports indicate that some of the animals are still alive, hearts beating for as long as 10 minutes after they are skinned.  One investigator recorded a skinned raccoon dog on the heap of carcasses who had enough strength to lift his bloodied head and stare into the camera.

Prior to their unimaginably painful death, the animals live in the cruelest of conditions as they pace and shiver in outdoor wire cages, exposed to all of the elements – rain, freezing nights, or scorching sun.  Not surprisingly, injury and disease are commonplace.  Anxiety-induced psychosis leads to self-mutilation, infanticide and other extreme, desperate behaviors.

The Swiss Animal Protection / East-International 2007 report, Dying for fur – A Report on the Fur Industry in China, informs us that “there are no regulations governing fur farms in China – farmers can house and slaughter animals however they see fit.”  Two of the most important laws covering animals in China – the Environment Protection Law and the Wildlife Protection Law – only protect wildlife in the wild.  Wild animals in captivity are treated as mere property, resources, or objects.  China is one of the few countries in the world without any legal provisions for animal welfare and furthermore, there are no acts banning cruelty in the Chinese legal system.

Based on a survey of U.S. retail outlets many of the mass-marketed fur-trimmed garments carry the “Made in China” label.  However, with our globalized market, China-originated fur pelts are disbursed through international auctions prior to being sewn in other countries.  Therefore, the final fur product label could read “Made in Italy” or “Made in France,” making it impossible for consumers to know where the fur originates.  Furthermore, manufacturing techniques such as dying often deceive shoppers into thinking they are buying fake fur.

Compounding this issue is the fact that Chinese fur farms deal not only in minks, foxes, and raccoon dogs, but domestic cats and dogs as well (some with their companion collars still affixed).  The fur’s original species is indistinguishable to the typical end user.  All the more reason to be relentless with the message to all who will listen that fur – even if it is “fake” – is a frivolous, unnecessary, and irresponsible purchase that supports animal cruelty in its worst form.

As I sit here in the middle of the couch, flanked by a peacefully resting dog to my left and cat to my right, the contrast in how some humans treat animals is a profound mystery to me.  How is it that we are all of the same species (humans) and yet our values and, thus our capabilities, regarding treatment of animals can range from doting to mere tolerance to depraved indifference to barbarism?  And I don’t just mean those who skin the animals.  The people who buy the fur are just a culpable as those who hold the skinning knife.

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While most of us hold little influence in or even access to China, we can pray urgently for God to bring an end to any form of fur farming which brutalizes the dignity of His creatures in such inexcusable and heartless ways, whether in China or even here at home as one of the commenters on Michelle's post alludes to.  Come, Lord Jesus.

For some initial signs of grace, the Humane Society reported early last year that the fur industry was being hurt substantially by the economic recession, and the HSUS continues to work hard to enforce the honest labeling of fur productsApparently, fake fur is even growing in popularity and fashionable credibility.  Amen to that; surely vanity never warrants this kind of cruelty.  For more on raccoon dogs see Wikipedia's page, and Salon's "An Olympic Disgrace" for another perspective on the Chinese use of dogs and cats.

(a sincere thanks to Michelle Land for sharing "Live Skinning Raccoon Dogs and Other Tales from the Fur Farm," originally published at the Animal Blawg; photo copyright Jens Klingebiel/123rf.com)

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Reader Comments (10)

It is nearly unbearable to even think about......China has an atrocious human rights record, so it makes complete sense that animals are treated even worse. They also happen to be the worlds largest producer of horse meat for the European market....so, in light of Asian fur farming you can imagine the sort of horror that goes on there, as well....

Apr 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTracey Clarke

I hear you, Tracey, this is beyond gut-wrenching. I did hear recently that there are some pending proposals in China to institute some initial animal welfare legal provisions. That would be a wonderful, and as you mentioned much-needed, development, all the more because of how massive China is - Ben

Apr 3, 2010 | Registered CommenterBen DeVries

I have read about the horrors that happen in china, but could not watch as it it is to sickening, its impossible to believe we live in the same world where this evil takes place you would think human beings in this day and age especially the chinese government would be ashamed to allow this, i for one would never visit a country which allows such horrors to go on. Its a sick world we live in.

Mar 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

It is really hard to watch, Anne, I'm with you. I really, really struggle with this particular abuse of animals myself, though we're not far off in our own country with some of our factory farming abuses. Thanks for your note, Ben

Mar 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterBen DeVries

Sobbing. Come, Lord Jesus.

Apr 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy Beal

Kathy, I was trembling when I watched this video myself. It is perhaps the worst cruelty I have ever heard or seen inflicted on an animal; just abject horror and inhumanity even. Thank you for your courage in taking in this post, and amen to your desire for Jesus to come and make this and so many other wrongs right ... Ben

Apr 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterBen DeVries

I saw this video and cried for days, couldnt eat or sleep. when it was time to sleep i kept thinking that at that point in time, these poor animals must be cold in the dark, hungry and ill. And when i wake up in the morning, i think- at this point in time the animals must be thinking if its their turn. they are tortured physically and mentally froim birth. I'd rather die then live to watch all this. What is wrong with the Chinese govt? What a retarded nation it is. i hope they all die and all animals escape.

Apr 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAzhar Aafreen

Azhar, it is an awful form of cruelty, and I'm sorry it's left you so shaken. I admire your heart and concern for these animals, and pray God comforts both them and you, and brings this awful practice to an end - Ben

Apr 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterBen DeVries

When I first saw this video, I couldn't even watch all of it without throwing up. It's hard for me to think about those poor animals and how much they suffer at the hands of humans. It's hard to think of how many animals are tortured by these cruel people. It makes me sick. How would they like it if they were kept in small cages, beaten, and then strung up as their skin was cut from them. I just pray it will end soon and that God hears our prayers. My heart is with every single animal that is suffering.

Mar 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBecca

Becca, I tried leaving a comment a few weeks back, but for some reason it didn't take. I agree - it is a terribly difficult video to watch, and I also hope God brings this extreme cruelty to an end very soon - Ben

Apr 4, 2013 | Registered CommenterBen DeVries

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