Ban on Breeding Animals for Fur in Croatia

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During its four years of existence, the organization Animals Friends Croatia has been very active against the production and promotion of fur, on which more information can be obtained in the Campaigns section of our website. The aim of these campaigns and protests against fur was to raise the awareness of Croatian citizens on the cruelty of the fur industry and the ethical unacceptability of killing animals for their fur. In this way, we seek to achieve the ban on breeding and killing animals for fur in Croatia by means of changes in the Animal Welfare Act, which the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management intends to submit for parliamentary debate in the beginning of 2006. Arguments for the ban are ethical, ecological, and economic. We are of the opinion that killing animals for vanity and profit is shameful if Croatia aims at presenting itself as a civilized country, which has a legal treatment of animals modelled upon those of European states which have progressive laws on animal welfare, such as the neighboring country Austria, on whose law the Croatian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management is modelling its Animal Welfare Act proposal.

Austria and the UK ban breeding animals for fur!

Breeding animals for fur was banned in Austria in 1998 and in the United Kingdom in 2003, which makes these two powerful European countries an example to others, Croatia included. Scotland also plans to promulgate a law against breeding animals for fur, given the fact that fur farms have vanished there some years ago. In 2003, Italy banned all import and trade in dog and cat fur, whilst Australia did it in 2004; in the same year, apart from banning import and trade in dog and cat fur, Belgium also became the first European country to ban import and trade in seal skin. There is also a legal ban in importing dog and cat fur into the USA, Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and France. Up to now, the EU has banned only trade in sealskin of animals that are less than 12 days old, whereas in the USA all import of seal products was banned more than 30 years ago. On March 27, 2006, Croatia proudly joined this trend by banning the import of seal pelts and all other products derived from seals.

For comparison, there were several hundred fur farms in Austria back in the 1970s, while in 1990 only 43 farms remained. If breeding animals for fur could be banned in Austria and the United Kingdom, where this branch of economy was fully developed, there is no reason for preserving this shameful practice in Croatia.

Chinchillas are still bred and killed for fur in Croatia!

As for Croatia, several years ago it was still among the top producers of chinchilla, a small South-American rodent, with over 50% share in global production, although the production has been steadily decreasing. For example, Chinchilla d.o.o. from Cakovec has produced 10,5 tons of carcass in only six months in 2001, which is a hair-raising number if we keep in mind what a small animal chinchilla is.

The greatest problem is that there is absolutely no control of breeding and keeping chinchillas, since farmers keep the animals in cages in their houses, cellars, or sheds, their production being unregistered and with no necessary permits. It is to be presumed that these animals are also bought and sold in ways that are largely illegal.

Chinchilla d.o.o. states that their methods of animal breeding are highly professional, meaning that the whelps are regularly separated from their mothers at the age of 5-6 weeks, after which they are placed in special cages, where they stay until they are three months old, after which they are moved again to individual cages. The main reason for this procedure is to preserve their precious fur, since they might damage it in play. In nature, chinchillas can live up to 20 years, while in industry they are killed when they are only eight months old. Several years ago, Chinchilla d.o.o. was killing the animals by breaking their necks. Today, they gas them.

We do not know in which way chinchillas are treated in Cakovec, since their owner Robert Tkalcec does not allow any reporters near his farm. Thus, we can presume that the conditions are similar to those on other fur farms all over the world, given the fact that it is all about gaining profit. The world’s largest animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in 2004 recorded that on a chinchilla farm in Michigan animals were dying in agony, fully conscious for some time after the electrocution.

Fur is ecologically unacceptable!

Apart from ethical arguments, there is the important ecological issue of disposing animal carcasses, as well as that of chemicals used in the processing and conservation of fur. In order to make one single fur coat, it is necessary to kill 200-250 chinchillas, up to 60 foxes, 30 coypu, 60 minks, etc. The fur industry is polluting our environment enormously, since apart from spending a large amount of natural resources (60 times more energy is needed to produce fur coats from ranch-raised animals than is needed to produce fake furs) carcasses of skinned animals are turned into waste. The process of fur production requires dangerous chemicals, which irreparably pollute our waterways. Moreover, the fur industry not only has a negative impact on ethical principles, since it forces people to earn their living by killing innocent animals, but also jeopardizes their health – the tanning process requires the use of carcinogenic trivalent and hexavalent chrome, which increases the risk of testicle cancer, while the high concentration of lead, cyanide, and formaldehyde, which have been detected in waterways around fur factories, may cause leukemia in the local population.

Neck breaking, gassing, electrocution, poisoning... all for a fur coat!

It is estimated that between 30 and 50 million animals are killed for their fur every year. Foxes, minks, chinchillas, rabbits, and other furbearers are bred on fur farms from Scandinavia to the Middle East. Farm animals are kept in narrow cages, where they spend their lives suffocating in their own dirt before they are skinned. Confinement causes boredom, terrible stress, and frustrations, which often leads to self-mutilation, cannibalism, and senseless, repetitive movements, typical for animals living in farm cages, zoos, and circuses. Before they are skinned, animals are killed by gassing, neck breaking, electrocution (an electroshock submitted through the mouth, rectum, or vagina, which causes cardiac arrest and literally burns the inner organs), or poisoning. Frequently, animals are skinned while still alive and then left to die in agony, thrown upon a heap of other skinned animals. For example, a secret investigator who has visited some fur farms in China recorded unbelievable atrocities forced upon foxes, minks, rabbits, and other furbearers, which are kept in cages and exposed to direct sunshine, rain, and cold. Those ill, wounded, and psychotic animals were chewing their own limbs and throwing themselves incessantly against the iron bars. Video recordings show animals that were still alive up to ten minutes after having been skinned, breathing heavily and slowly opening and closing their eyes.
It is high time that Croatia should legally ban the breeding of animals for fur, thus putting an end to the barbarous practice, which is ethically detrimental apart from polluting the environment and endangering the health of its citizens, while not even being a major branch of the Croatian economy.

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