Each year more than 40 million animals are killed for their fur worldwide. Around 85% of fur comes from farmed animals and the remaining from wild caught animals. The most commonly bred animals are mink and fox (arctic and red), along with racoon dogs and rex rabbits. Farmed animals are kept imprisoned in small cages for their entire lives and are denied both their natural biological and behavioural needs. Rex rabbits, for example, are one of the main breeds of rabbits reared and killed for their fur. They have very thin coverings of fur on their feet so the wire flooring of the mesh cages causes pain, injury and suffering.
The biggest slaughter of marine mammals for their fur happens in Canada. In 2006 the number of marine animals killed was 325,000. The primary concern when killing the animals is to preserve their fur. Methods of killing include gassing, lethal injection, electrocution, clubbing, breaking the neck, smashing the skull, slitting the throat, choking or skinning to death.
Leather can be made from cows, pigs, goats, and sheep or exotic animals such as alligators, ostriches, and kangaroos and even dogs and cats, who are slaughtered for their meat and skin in China, which exports their skins around the world.
Most leather comes from developing countries such as India and China, where animal welfare laws are either non-existent or not enforced. In India, a PETA investigation found that workers break cows’ tails and rub chili peppers and tobacco into their eyes in order to force them to get up and walk after they collapse from exhaustion on the way to the slaughterhouse.
Leather is also no friend of the environment, as it shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution caused by the toxins used in tanning. The process of tanning leather is incredibly toxic. Most leather is chrome tanned, which results in carcinogenic chromium (VI) being pumped into the water table. While most factories in Europe and America can no longer get away with this practice, the same cannot be said of the vast leather industry in China, where many bags, jackets, and shoes begin life – including many bound for the luxury market. While leather can be tanned used non-toxic vegetable dyes, chrome tanning is faster and produces a flexible leather that’s better for high-end bags and coats, so there’s no incentive for factories to switch.
Horrifically, the softest, most luxurious leather comes from the skin of newborn or even unborn calves, cut prematurely out of their mother’s wombs.
Bo Carter is ideologically opposed to these practices, which is why you will never find any fur or leather products in any of her collections or garments.