Speaking as an animal that has, throughout time, been eyeballed by humans as mostly a delectable honey-baked ham or candidate for a barbecue – always the main course, never the guest – I’m not writing this for my own or my species sake. Yes, perhaps they used to (do they still?) make footballs out of our skin. But pigs have hair, not fur, which is why my dander-allergic daddy picked me for a pet in the first place. Nobody will be wearing a floor-length Iggy to keep them warm this year. I know fur must be warm, though, as my kittycat friends and nemeses in the backyard can attest. I can hardly fault my human friends for wanting to cozy up in a fur during these cold gray days. I’m a tropical pot-bellied pig by nature and spend my winter days on the back porch by a heater.

But here’s my plea for all Freep readers to call for an end to killing animals for fur. I know none of you wear fur, don’t get me wrong. Here’s some quick facts on the fur industry you can use in your arguments and a few local retailers to boycott:

¨ Approximately 3.5 million fur-bearing animals—raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, beavers, otters, and others—are killed each year for their fur by trappers in the U.S. Another 2.7 million animals are raised on fur “farms.”

¨ Ranch-raised foxes are kept in cages only 2.5 feet square (minks in cages 1-foot-by-3-feet), with up to four animals per cage.

¨ Animals can languish in traps for days. Up to 1 out of every 4 trapped animals escapes by chewing off his or her own feet, only to die later from blood loss, fever, gangrene, or predation.

¨ Every year, thousands of dogs, cats, raptors, and other so-called “trash” animals (including endangered species like the bald eagle) are crippled or killed by traps.

¨ To kill the animals without damaging their fur, trappers usually strangle, beat, or stomp them to death. Animals on fur farms may be gassed, electrocuted, poisoned with strychnine, or have their necks snapped. These methods are not 100 percent effective and some animals “wake up” while being skinned.

¨ According to a study by the Ford Motor Company, it takes almost three times as much energy to make a coat from trapped animals’ pelts—and 40 times as much from ranch-raised furs—than it does to make a fake fur coat.

The local People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (POET) holds a “Fur-Free Friday” demonstration each year to protest certain stores that sell fur products. This year they were run off from Saks at Polaris Fashion Hell (I mean, Mall) in November. They also held a “Rock Against Fur” benefit at Little Brothers. Other stores to boycott are Lazarus and any shop that has “Fur” in the title, of course.

Egg farm cruelty continues

Also in recent animal rights news, investigators from the Ohio animal rights organization Mercy For Animals (MFA) have released the findings of a month-long investigation into animal mistreatment at Buckeye Egg Farm and Daylay Egg Farm, Ohio’s two largest egg producers.

MFA’s investigation at Buckeye’s facility in La Rue and Daylay’s facility in Raymond began after the organization’s requests for tours of the facilities were ignored. Both Buckeye Egg Farm and Daylay Egg Farm confine millions of hens in tiny “battery cages” (long rows of wire cages holding an average of eight birds per cage).

At both facilities investigated, MFA discovered severe overcrowding and confinement, hens trapped in the wire of their cages, and dead birds left to slowly rot next to their cage mates. At Daylay, a live hen was found thrown in a dumpster filled with trash and hundreds of dead birds.

The investigation uncovered countless sick and injured hens suffering from raging eye and sinus infections, mechanical feather damage, pasteurellae, paralysis, vitamin deficiency, vent peritonitis, hernias, wing hematomas, and blindness. MFA administered aid to the injured animals.

The good doctors vs. the bad

I rather like to report positive news. On the “good news” front, some very respectable and rational doctors in the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine filed a lawsuit recently against the National Institutes of Health, alleging that the nation’s biomedical research agency failed to adhere to the Freedom of Information Act involving their requests for information on Michael Podell at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and his cat “cats on speed” experiments you have read about in the pages of the Free Press. Way to go, docs!

Great American Meat-Out

Watch for the 2002 Great American Meat-Out, held on March 20th, the first day of Spring. FARM (Farm Animal Reform Movement) is the national group that organizes it. They have a web site: www.meatout.org, that has all the information you should need about this national event. There are many grassroots animal rights organizations across the country that organize events for Meat-Out.