several mink standing in a dirty cage


This action alert is for U.S. residents. International advocates, please visit Humane Society International.


End the cruel and deadly fur trade before it causes the next pandemic. The fur trade is a deadly business. Every year, around 100 million animals suffer and are killed for their fur. The vast majority are kept on intensive fur farms. Animals including foxes, mink, raccoon dogs and chinchillas are kept for their entire lives in tiny wire cages, before being killed and skinned for so-called fashion.

Not only do these battery cage systems cause immense animal suffering, they are also now proven to present a serious public-health risk. The cramped conditions, poor hygiene, stress, injuries and disease, minimal veterinary care, and lack of genetic diversity all mean that fur farms create ideal conditions for viruses to be transmitted and for viruses to mutate creating new strains.

Animals infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been found on hundreds of mink farms in the United States, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France, Greece, Spain and Lithuania. In some cases, the virus mutated into new strains, that infected people and surrounding wildife. Disease prevention experts have expressed grave concerns, including the European Centre for Disease Control which stated that the evolution of the virus in mink could undermine the effectiveness of future vaccines in humans. The report also found that “continued transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms may eventually give rise to other variants of concern."

Governments cannot respond to this crisis simply by culling millions of animals and then allowing farmers to return to business as usual. The appalling conditions on fur farms make them a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. Now, animals on fur farms throughout Europe are contracting highly pathogenic avian flu, sparking concerns over public health risks. Disease transmission experts warn that it is a matter of when, and not if, another deadly virus hits if we continue to keep animals in conditions that push them beyond the limits of their physical and psychological endurance.

Twenty countries have already acted to ban the farming of animals for their fur because it is cruel, outdated and unnecessary. In light of new evidence that fur farms can also act as reservoirs for deadly viruses, as well as create new viruses, we call on all countries to ban fur farms, and we call on world leaders to publicly acknowledge that fur farming must end.

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