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Can the Fur Industry Actually Help Animals, For Once?

Can the Fur Industry Actually Help Animals, For Once?

At the end of my recent post about Caché’s decision to stop selling fur, I mentioned that people can donate unwanted furs to PETA for use in demonstrations, giveaways to the homeless, and other educational events. Now, it seems there’s another use for fuggly, unpopular furs: sopping up oil in the Gulf Coast.

Fur and hair are oil magnets, as you can tell from all the photos of oil-covered sea animals, so Matter of Trust, a San Francisco-based charity, is collecting hair and fur and crafting it into oil-absorbing “hairmats” to help soak up the mess in the gulf.

My dog sheds all day long. Short of knitting her fur into a sweater—or a “toy” dog—there’s not much else to do with her “excess” hair, so I’ll send it along to Matter of Trust. But it seems that people with “full” furs can help even more by sending their fur coats, stoles, muffs, and other fur “garments” to help animals affected by the oil spill.

What irony. The fur industry has poisoned, gassed, beaten, electrocuted, or skinned alive countless foxes, minks, chinchillas, and other fur-bearing animals, and now caring people may be able to use the animals’ pelts to help save birds, fish, sea turtles, and other marine animals who are in danger of dying because of an oil industry spill. What was worn by a once self-absorbed individual could now be used to absorb oil to help save animals, the only ones who should be wearing fur in the first place.

Wouldn’t it be nice if furriers donated their inventory to Matter of Trust—and then shut down shop, of course? I certainly don’t think it’s too much to ask. The fur industry is on its way out anyway. According to one fur trade journal, U.S. mink farms sold 28,000 fewer skins in 2009 than in 2008, and the value of the skins that were sold dropped by 38 percent. Fur imports also dropped considerably in the same time span. Caché and many other popular retailers, including J. Crew, JC Penny, Express, Ann Taylor, Gap, Banana Republic, Liz Claiborne, Lane Bryant, Polo Ralph Lauren, Forever 21, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and American Eagle Outfitters, consider fur to be a liability and refuse to sell it.. Canadian sealers have been massacring animals for years, and the worldwide demand for seal fur is plummeting.

We can’t bring the animals who suffered and died for fur coats and trim back from the dead, no matter how much we wish, write, or protest. But fur peddlers can, for once, do something to help save animals by going out of business and shipping their remaining stock to Matter of Trust to help sop up the oil that is devastating wildlife and destroying beaches.

I’m not holding my breath though.

But we can all still do our part to help. Please encourage your grandmother, great aunt, or anyone else who might have an old fur in their closet to send it to Matter of Trust. If the only fur in your family is on your dog or cat, where it belongs, give your companion a good (relaxing) brushing and mail the loose fur to Matter of Trust.  Hair salons can also help by sending human hair. We can’t all comb the beaches and go out in the gulf to clean oiled-animals, but we can all gather fur and hair to help absorb the oil.

To find out what else you can do to help, see Care2′s coverage of the oil spill.

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145 comments

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5:48AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

wait? PETA is giving fur to the homeless? I thought they want nobody to have fur, unless they live off the land in northrenmost Alaska or Russia

4:34AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

My sister in law has a hair saloon. I will talk to her!

4:31AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

I don't have any fur to send, but I would if I find it.

4:09AM PDT on Apr 20, 2011

Anna Wintour should get with the times, read this article, get educated, and then demand all fur businesses to donate their furs to this great cause. Then those fur businesses should immediately shut down.

4:40AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

wow! Great article!

9:17AM PDT on Jun 29, 2010

I will do whatever I can as a humanbeing to help the animals in the water. I am going to ask my friends for fur products. Thanks!!

6:48AM PDT on May 30, 2010

as i do not own a fur, i cannot send one. but this is a great idea. thanks for the info.

10:21AM PDT on May 27, 2010

what a wonderful idea, I always gets lots of hair from my dog when I brush her and my cats are always molting

9:40PM PDT on May 26, 2010

I wish I had known about the fur donation a bit earlier. My dog has an incredible undercoat and I will happily send the next batch asap.

4:22PM PDT on May 26, 2010

I heard on the news today that BP is actually trying to DISCOURAGE the boom process with the excuse that they are worried about what to do with all the excess oil (and booms) after the disaster is over (how to dispose of the hazardous waste when it is sopped up and can be accounted for??) Step one is making sure the oceans are clean, then they may have to be responsible for cleaning up the booms!!! Maybe that is why they are trying so hard to hide the evidence by dispersing it into the ocean with toxic chemicals. People will do what they can to help, and BP should not be preventing them or discouraging them.

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