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Blog for Last Chance for Animals, an international non-profit dedicated to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.
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Fur is Cruel, but What About Leather and Wool?

Sheep.JoAnneLast week, hundreds of activists joined LCA’s annual Fur Free Friday protest in Beverly Hills to stand up for the tens of millions of fur-bearing animals killed each year for fashion. It is widely known that wearing fur causes horrific and unnecessary cruelty, and numerous clothing brands have committed to going fur-free as a result. While fur is indeed a barbaric industry, seldom considered are the millions of animals killed for other clothing materials, most notably leather and wool.

While leather and wool are frequently written off as byproducts of meat production, this is not always the case. Many animals are killed exclusively for these products and numerous investigations have documented the egregious treatment of cows raised for leather and rabbits and sheep raised for wool. Zara and Gap made headlines in 2013 for continuing to sell angora wool after undercover footage revealed workers violently ripping the fur from the bodies of live rabbits who cried in agony. The brands later relented to public pressure and stopped selling angora, but the product remains prevalent in the fashion industry today. Similar investigations have revealed the appalling cruelty behind sheep’s wool—documenting how sheep are mutilated, beat, stomped on, thrown, and ultimately killed due to the demand for wool. Shearing is usually a violent and terrifying process for sheep that causes cuts and bleeding. Additionally, the commonly held belief that sheep need to be sheered for their own wellbeing is misleading as the wool industry has intentionally bred sheep to produce far more wool than is natural. After years of prolonged suffering, millions of sheep are packed onto crowded ships for grueling journeys to the Middle East where they will face a terrifying and painful slaughter, most commonly by having their throats slit while fully conscious. 

Angora Getty

Leather is one of the most ubiquitous animal products in the fashion industry and it is far from cruelty-free. While most leather is obtained from animals slaughtered for meat, the leather industry is essential to the profitability of the meat industry. Fueling the demand for leather by purchasing leather products greatly contributes to the suffering of cows and other animals who endure brutal treatment for the entirety of their lives. Furthermore, the most luxurious leather materials are sourced from newborn calves and lambs who are, in many cases, killed exclusively for their skin.

As we continue to fight tirelessly against fur production, it is crucial to acknowledge the harrowing reality of the many other profit-driven textile industries that regard the lives of sensitive and intelligent animals as mere means to trivial and unnecessary ends—clothing and accessories. Our fashion choices have a tremendous impact on the lives of animals, and while going fur-free is a step in the right direction, it is important that animal advocates stand up for the millions of other animals who are relentlessly exploited for fashion. You can help create a more compassionate world by choosing animal-free clothing options. 

Photo 1: Jo-Anne McArthur

Photo 2: AFP/Getty

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