Apr 29, 2019
By Eric G. Young, Esq.
As we near Earth Day 2019 on April 22, all Californians should reflect on the important role animals play in our lives and our environment. Whether they are wild or domesticated, ours is a state that cares about animal rights and well-being. In 2018, Californians overwhelmingly voted, for the second time, to protect farm animals from cruel and inhumane conditions. Numerous pieces of legislation have been passed at both the state and local level to protect companion animals from mistreatment and discrimination.
On December 3, 2018, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) took a bold step and introduced AB44. AB 44 would make it unlawful to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, give donate or otherwise distribute a fur product in California. AB44 follows historic moves by several California cities to ban fur, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Berkeley.
On March 12, 2019, AB44 passed its first major hurdle.The legislation was approved 10-4 by the Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee. Two, Sonoma County representatives voted to advance the legislation: Assemblyman Marc Levine, who represents the Petaluma area, and Assemblyman Jim Wood, who represents north Santa Rosa and northern Sonoma County. The legislation is now winding its way through other committees. If AB44 passes a full Assembly vote, California will become the first state in the U.S. to ban fur products.
The fur industry treats animals with extreme cruelty. Most animals killed for fur are raised on farms in deplorable conditions of confinement. For example, wild mink instinctively range a territory of approximately 741 acres. In contrast, ranch-raised mink are confined to a 12” by 18” cage, about the length of the animals’ bodies. Severely constrained conditions cause these animals to engage in self-mutilation, cannibalize their young, and experience profound stress where they literally bounce of the cage walls. When they are finally killed for their fur, mink are often skinned while alive, their bodies discarded in piles like trash. It can take as many as 60 minks to make one full-length fur coat.
Mink are just one of many species killed for their fur. Throughout the world, each year, more than 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals -- including foxes, seals, and even dogs -- are raised on fur farms or trapped in the wild solely for their fur. While much of this trade originates in China or other countries, the fur is marketed and sold right here in California, often falsely labeled as “faux.”
Unfortunately, fur sales in the U.S. are on the rise. After experiencing a decline due to animals rights work and public education, fur sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 50% from 1990-2015. Global fur sales from 2011-2013 jumped by more than 50% from $16 billion to $36 billion. According to the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), the largest U.S. fur industry association, the number of designers who use fur has also dramatically increased, climbing from 42 in 1985 to about 500 today.
Currently, few federal laws or regulations restrict the fur industry. Laws like the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Fur Seal Act, and the Endangered Species Act do not concern fur farms or the fur trade. The Fur Products Labeling Act only mandates that fur garments be properly labeled. Similarly, most U.S. states have few, if any, legal protections for animals raised or trapped for their fur.
If passed into law in the state with the 5th largest economy in the world, AB44 would be a significant leap forward for animal protection. Confining, trapping, and killing animals solely so humans can wear their fur as a fashion statement is completely at odds with California values. In the 21st century, it is also not necessary that we wear fur to keep ourselves warm. The time has come to ban this cruel industry in California.
To do your part for Earth Day, I encourage all Sonoma County voters who love animals and wildlife to contact your legislators and encourage them to support AB44. Below are contact addresses and phone numbers for Sonoma County’s state legislators. You can also email them at their official websites.
Tel: (707) 576-2526
Fax: (707) 576-2297
Tel: (707) 224-0440
Fax: (707) 224-0430
Tel: (707) 576-2631
Fax: (707) 576-2735
Mr. Young is a civil litigation attorney in Santa Rosa, CA. For more information on how you can help with passing AB44, please contact Mr. Young firstname.lastname@example.org.
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