12.02.2013

H&M and Rabbits: how people are discussing this is just really weird.

You guys. WTF with the angora rabbit and H&M thing?  First, it's horrifying.  Second, I find the way people are talking about it very strange.  I know this is not a pretty picture post but as a vegan fashion / style blog (or whatever), I feel like I'd be woefully remiss if I didn't mention this issue. 

By now, it's likely you've read about H&M products being made with angora being yanked out of live, screaming rabbitsThis is one of the first times a major retailer took action on obvious animal cruelty - they halted angora production until they could examine the supply chain and offered to take back any products containing angora sold recently. This all came about because PETA released video proof of these violent actions on angora rabbits.

In the CNN Money article, PETA representatives are quoted as saying:

PETA spokesperson Ben Williamson said consumers must pressure retailers by "turning their backs on angora."  There was no humane way to remove fur from angora rabbits, he said. Animals that have their fur cut, rather than plucked, have their legs tied with ropes, and are stretched over a board or suspended in the air.
You can see pictures of the more "humane" practice here.  And a photographic picture of each practice in a slideshow here.  The PETA report found that half the rabbit fur farms were yanking the hair off the rabbits in patches versus trimming the fur.

And while H&M's reaction is admirable - halting what they rightly define as animal cruelty - it strikes me as weird that the rest of the stuff they do with angora rabbits is "okay".  It's okay to breed rabbits for hair and keep them in cages to "harvest" this stuff off their bodies?  This is how they're kept!  That's okay?

Undated-handout-image-received-on-Nov.-20-2013-from-animal-rights-group-PETA-People-for-the-Ethical-Treatment-of-Animals-and-taken-at-an-undisclosed-location-in-China-shows-angora-rabbits-in-cages.-AFP

It's okay to keep them in cages only to take them out, tie them up and cut all their hair off?  Repeatedly?  It's okay that's the only thing these rabbits know?  It's okay to dispose of them when they are no longer producing?  While this is a "live-harvest" (same with sheep/wool), it still means they're in crappy conditions, produces a huge opportunity for neglect and cruelty even with non-plucking harvesting.  (Also, if not for this video, none of us would even know about this practice -- and that's how a lot of cruelty towards farmed animals happens.  Behind closed doors with no reprieve.)  And I'm pretty sure these rabbits don't live out their low-production old age on rabbit farms.  They die, whether they're used to feed people or other animals, there is likely no respite - just disposal. 

Is it just me, or is that royally screwed up that people really think omitting the most tragically cruel practice against these rabbits (that we know of currently, anyway) means we're doing okay?  That the rest is just "humane"?  This is a total mindblower for me.  Like, it seems angora itself is the problem...not this one really bad part of it.  All of it, dudes.  All of it.  Angora sweaters or scarves or gloves (or whatever) not only support opportunities for horrific cruelty but they also mean dead rabbits in the long run.  I am just not okay with that.

Okay, that's my animal rights monologue for December, I guess.  I have so many feelings about this  - anger, disgust but also major major sadness!

13 comments:

  1. Not just you. Appalling and inexcusable.

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  2. i hate this kind of thing. its like people don't really care, but if you MAKE them see something that is obviously terrible, they react and that practice stops. but they don't want to see what else is wrong with that picture. its like the whole foods animal compassion scale thing for meat. It can get a 1 through 5 on how "compassionate" the animals are raised and that seems to make people feel great, even if they steps don't REALLY do much to improve the animals life and they are still slaughtered terribly.

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    1. wait what? there's an actual scale of how ethical the meat can be in numbers?

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    2. Totally. I am always amazed that people forget about transport and slaughter in addition to living conditions and treatment (including being manipulated like being artificially inseminated, babies taken away, etc).

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    3. Also, yes, Milla, they have a scale that's on the butcher case: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/quality-standards/animal-welfare-standards

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    4. Okay I know I already know this, but it is MAGICAL how low our standards are. This whole concept puzzles the shit out me! I also want to know who picks 1 out 5 if they even pretend to give a rats butt about animals, it seems like I psychological experiment of some kind. If there's any truth to this scale, I guess regular grocery store meat would be somewhere around -5? So confused. I mean, again, I already know that the treatment of animals in factory settings is...whatever the word for that would be, but Whole Foods, I am so confused...

      And again, I have so many questions and comments and thoughts on eating animals that I really think some sort of online discourse must happen soon...

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  3. Cognitive. Dissonance. No really. Sometimes I wonder if people have just complete blinders on. But then again, I'm totally guilty of the same thing (well for one thing I'm not vegan-but that's a conversation I hope you and I and lots of other folks get to have sometime in the future thanks to this awesome medium of interwebs) in that though I don't buy any new leather stuff (or wool) some of the stuff I use in crafting is a by-product of an industry I don't want to support (and then there's knitting. fuck.).

    Girl, I think that conversation I mentioned needs to happen sooner rather than later...

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that there's SO MUCH wrong with a retailer like H&M that people totally close their eyes to and I kind of get why. Also, I'm entirely sure that H&M's response is particularly admirable. I understand that sadly, it's unique and therefore notable, but if they had any intention of having a supply chain that treated animals or humans ethically, there never would have been angora rabbits to begin with. Which would have been admirable.

    I know, that's a whole other conversation, how our expectations about this stuff are so low not that when someone says "Hey we're willing to stop using two-year-olds to stitch together baby clothes in a bunker." we actually feel like that's progress...

    I feel like this just happened last year with down coats. And every time someone's like: "What the animals aren't frolicking? They're not frolicking and shedding feathers and supersoft fur and pooping junky jewelry?!"

    Sorry for my rambly comment. I'm off to bed. Thanks for writing about this.

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    1. I totally agree re cognitive dissonance. I know there are many areas I have it as well. (A good example: My cats eat meat. Like, I know it...and I know I could just euthanize all my cats and I would only be killing 6 animals vs continuing to kill however many chickens they eat per day. And one life isn't more valuable than the next, except I'm bonded to them and they're obligate carnivores. Maybe it's not the best example because I've thought about it a lot and have tried to switch what they eat based on reduced harm...but even so!)

      I 1000% agree with this, and fistpump it!
      "I understand that sadly, it's unique and therefore notable, but if they had any intention of having a supply chain that treated animals or humans ethically, there never would have been angora rabbits to begin with. Which would have been admirable."

      And this one made me laugh - which is no small feat on such a sore subject! "I feel like this just happened last year with down coats. And every time someone's like: "What the animals aren't frolicking? They're not frolicking and shedding feathers and supersoft fur and pooping junky jewelry?!""

      Thank you very much for your not-at-all rambly comment!

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  4. Wow, I hadn't heard of this before your post. I cannot believe that this happens and I would now class myself as woefully ignorant and sometimes someone who doesn't think enough of the animals in the supply chain, that changes now.

    Thanks for posting this, it is an eye opener for me.

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  5. Great post. I'll be sharing it online.

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  6. I wrote about angora today on my AR blog. It's disgusting and shameful, but not surprising. When there's money to be made, people are quick to ditch so called "standards."

    It's weird, I agree, that people are only worried about the plucking. What about their "living" conditions? Rabbits need to burrow and forage, not sit around in filthy cages. And the fact that they're killed after a few years is a major issue that people haven't really talked about. I have a feeling that they're artificially bred to be hairier than normal too, so everything about this industry is cruel and unnatural. Thanks for sharing the message.

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  7. Ugh, so awful and terrifying :(

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