Real or Fake Fur?

When I was a little girl, I liked to rub my face against the soft fur of Aunt Stella’s fur coat.  Only as an adult did I learn that the soft fur belonged on the animals from whom it had been stolen – at the cost of their lives.  A full-length fur coat was once a status symbol.  As a young woman, Mom was proud that she had earned enough of her own money to buy one.  Today, many people realize that fur is a symbol of cruelty and death.

A harder lesson to convey to the general public is that even fur trim is also frequently the product of animal suffering and murder. Trim on jackets or coats is very common.  It’s difficult to determine whether the fur is real or fake.  Sometimes I approach people who are wearing fur-trimmed garments and politely hand them a pocket card that explains the pain and death caused by fur.  Frequently, the person will assure me that their trim can’t be real fur because it wasn’t very expensive.  The sad truth is that real fur trim is not expensive.  The life of the animal is very cheap, so the price of the garment won’t give you an answer.

Even the look of the trim can be deceptive.  Perversely, some designers make real fur look like fake fur, and vice versa. The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) tries to help buyers make this distinction: At the base of real fur, there will be an animal’s skin.  Strands may taper to points (If the fur is sheared, however, they won’t.)  Fake fur will emerge from a fabric backing – identified by its weave.  Strands will usually have blunt ends.  The Sept./Oct. 2015 article in the HSUS magazine (ALL ANIMALS) shows a diagram of the two.  Frankly, I find this distinction difficult to determine, given the exceptions and the subtleties. My solution is to avoid any garment which has fur trim since I cannot really know whether it’s fake or real. Other items to think about are which toys may be made with fur and whether the trim on gloves or scarves is fur.

Another dilemma is that garments, by law, are supposed to be labeled as fake or real fur. But the HSUS has found that sometimes these labels are wrong. A label which says “synthetic” may actually be real fur.  Another example is that garments made from animals skinned alive in China are labeled “Asiatic Raccoon” whereas HSUS says they should be labeled “raccoon dog.”  I’ve seen a video of these helpless animals being hit with clubs and then skinned alive. I think the images will haunt me forever.  SEE And other countries, including the U.S., also use horrible methods to raise and slaughter fur-bearing animals. For example, foxes are kept in tiny, filthy cages until they are killed by anal electrocution. SEE

I have a stylish cloth coat.  People often tell me how they like the coat.  I have warm jackets, scarves and gloves – all without fur trim.  I feel happy knowing I’m doing my little part to reduce unnecessary suffering and death.

If you want anti-fur pocket cards or leaflets, contact me at People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. or  Our website is

Translated by Rob English

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