With her leg caught in a fur trap, KC’s future looked grim. Had this lovable German shepherd not been rescued, she likely would have starved to death in a forest in Indiana.
Even with a severely mangled leg that ultimately had to be amputated, KC greeted her rescuers with kisses. Midwest Animal Rescue & Services provided KC with the care she needed and later brought her to Minnesota, where she was adopted by Minneapolis resident Gigi Abbadie.
Today, KC is an honored member of Abbadie’s family; this bond has inspired Abbadie to take part in the campaign to make Minneapolis the next fur-free city.
On Jan. 17, Ninth Ward City Council Member Alondra Cano introduced a bill, co-authored by Second Ward Council Member Cam Gordon, to ban sales and manufacturing of fur in Minneapolis. Passing this ordinance would reduce the number of animals killed for their fur, the animals killed to feed them, and the accidental victims like KC. The bill includes exemptions for Native American tribal uses and secondhand furs.
Over the past year, a local coalition known as Fur Free Minneapolis (where I volunteer) has been advocating for the city to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products. Fur Free Minneapolis was born out of the belief that fur-bearing animals deserve to be free to live in the wild. According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 100 million animals such as foxes and mink are killed for their fur each year. Fur Free Minneapolis advocates for an end to the needless suffering caused by the fur industry. Approximately 40 partner organizations and 15,000 individual signatures endorse the campaign.
Trapping is one method the fur industry commonly uses to source its products. Fur trappers use leghold traps to catch animals in the wild, often leaving the victims confined for days without food or water. Trappers often bludgeon, choke, or stomp the trapped animals to death. The American Veterinary Medicine Association estimates that for every intended victim of fur trapping, these leghold traps catch two non-target animals, like KC the dog. Occasionally, trappers accidentally harm endangered species and human children.
Most animals killed for their fur are raised in miserable conditions on factory fur farms. Animals on these farms, such as foxes and mink, spend their lives in cramped cages, deprived of any opportunity to express natural behaviors, including running and foraging. Ultimately, these furry creatures face a cruel death by gassing or electrocution. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2008 reported that 23 mink farms, in addition to unknown numbers of fox, rabbit, and other fur farms, operate in Minnesota.
Fur farming also takes a heavy toll on the environment. Raising animals for their fur is a resource-intensive process, requiring land, water, feed, and other inputs. Waste is an area of special concern. Mink farming alone annually produces millions of pounds of feces, which contain high levels of phosphorus. Waste runoff pollutes waterways, causing severe harm to ecosystems.
Animal advocates are gaining tremendous momentum in their efforts to protect fur-bearing animals. In October 2019, three influential decisions made global news. First, California banned the sale of new fur products, following its ban on wild animal trapping in September. Second, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s agreed to go fur-free by 2020. And, internationally, Slovakia became the 15th nation to outlaw fur farming. Earlier in the year, the Prada Group and CHICCO joined the 300-plus brands and retailers worldwide that have eliminated the use of fur.
Later this month, the Minneapolis City Council will vote on sending the fur ban bill to the Economic Development and Regulatory Services Committee for consideration. Fur Free Minneapolis is encouraging residents to write or call their council members to urge them to support this ordinance. Non-Minneapolis residents can show their support by signing an online petition at furfreeminneapolis.org. If the bill passes, Fur Free Minneapolis estimates that the fur ban will spare the lives of 10,000 animals per year.
Minneapolis has the opportunity to lead the state and the nation toward a more compassionate world for all beings. Animals like KC are counting on Minneapolis residents.
Julie Knopp is president of the board of directors at Compassionate Action for Animals and a volunteer with Fur Free Minneapolis.