In recent weeks, animal rights activists in NYC and Toronto have convinced dozens of people wearing Canada Goose coats to unzip the fur trim. Activists attribute their recent success to a growing public awareness about the cruelty inherent in producing Canada Goose and other fur coats.
Activists display fur trims collected during a protest at Paragon Sporting Goods, a Canada Goose retailer in NYC. (photo on right: Nathan Semmel)
During a protest at New York Stock Exchange on the day that Canada Goose went public, TheirTurn captured two of these incidents on camera.
Consumers who have agreed to unzip the fur have told activists that they thought the fur was fake or that they never stopped to think about what – or who – they were wearing until they were educated by the handouts, the recent media coverage and the anti-Canada Goose posters that have been plastered around the cities.
Rob Banks removes the fur trim from a Canada Goose coat in front of the New York Stock Exchange on the day that Canada Goose went public
Canada Goose decorates its coats with the fur of coyotes who are caught in steel leg-hold traps, where the wild dogs can suffer for days before the trappers return to shoot them in the head. The canines often attempt to chew off their own limbs to escape the traps and return to their babies.
Activists donate the fur trim to rescue groups that use it to make blankets for orphaned animals.
In an effort to call attention to the plight of the coyotes trapped and killed to decorate Canada Goose coats, animal rights activists staged a protest inside of the Canada Goose department at Paragon Sporting Goods in NYC.
Paragon Sports customers watch in disbelief as animal rights activists protest the sale of Canada Goose
After being expelled from the store, activists protested on the sidewalk for two hours, educating pedestrians about the cruelty of fur and encouraging people wearing Canada Goose coats to unzip the coyote trim and send it an animal sanctuary that uses discarded fur to make blankets for orphaned animals.
Activists protest and distribute anti-fur pamphlets at fur retailer Paragon sports
In addition to the trapping and killing of coyotes, activists protested the company’s use of goose feather stuffing in their coats.
Workers yank the feathers out of the bodies of geese for clothing and bedding (photo: PETA)
In NYC, Canada Goose coats, which bear an unmistakable red shoulder patch, have become a uniform for people who can afford them. “People wear Canada Goose because it’s a status symbol, not because they need a coat designed for Arctic weather extremes, which is how the company markets it,” said Jessica Hollander, a NY-based activist who has engaged with hundreds of people wearing Canada Goose coats. “Some people seem genuinely upset when I describe the cruelty, but most ignore me. After all, ignorance is bliss.”
Customers in the New York City vegan restaurant By Chloe wear Canada Goose coats with dog fur trim
In November 2016, activists in NYC launched a grass roots campaign targeting Canada Goose when the company opened a retail store in Soho. Dozens of protests in front of the store have triggered outrage among Soho residents, who are angry not only about the noise but also the presence of graphic anti-Canada Goose posters that have been plastered in their neighborhood.
In recent months, mainstream media began reporting on the Canada Goose protests and the controversy surrounding their coats. The most thorough and balanced article to date was published on February 23rd in The Villager.
Anti-Canada Goose posters have been plastered around New York City
During the four days after Canada Goose opened its first retail store in the United States, animal rights activists staged massive protests at the entrance, dissuading shoppers from entering and shaming those who purchased coats after seeing images of geese and coyotes being terrorized and killed for their feathers and fur.
In this six minute video, Canadian journalist Zach Ruiter captured some of the dramatic encounters between the protesters and Canada Goose customers on the day of the store’s grand opening in New York City.
TheirTurn, which also reported from the grand opening, interviewed actor and comedian Dave Hill, who stopped by with his dog Lucy to lend his support. In addition to criticizing the Canada Goose for engaging in “mass slaughter” while masquerading as a “mom and pop” business, Hill contemplated asking the company, which uses wild dog (coyote) fur, if it would make a coat using Lucy’s fur.
In October, activists with PETA and Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) staged an in-store disruption on the opening day of its first retail store. According to PETA, “25 chanting, poster-wielding PETA supporters and DxE activists descended on the grand opening of Canada Goose’s first-ever brick-and-mortar store in Toronto. Less than a minute after protesters entered the building—where they were immediately locked in by security personnel—the company’s CEO, Dani Reiss, fled to the back of the store.”
Canada Goose is being targeted by animal rights activists because the company sells winter coats stuffed with feathers plucked out of the bodies of geese and lined with the fur of coyotes who are captured in steel leg hold traps. Advocates say that coyotes attempt to chew off their trapped limbs to escape and oftentimes starve to death while waiting for the trapper to shoot them.
Protest on the opening day of the Canada Goose store in NYC
The red and blue Canada Goose badge on the coats has become a status symbol in urban areas. Activists are working to ensure that customers, some of whom don’t realize they are wearing real fur, know that they’re wearing a “badge of terror.”
Activists help Canada Goose customers connect the dots between their dogs who they love and the dogs who they’re wearing.
There is a perception in the animal rights community that fur consumption is declining when, in fact, it is on the rise.
From 1990 – 2015, fur sales in the U.S. grew by approximately 50%
From 2013 to 2014, U.S. fur sales grew by 7.3%
In 2014, fur sales in the U.K. increased by 20%
From 2011 – 2013, global fur sales jumped by more than 50% – from $16 billion to $36 billion
According to the Fur Information Council of America (FICA), the largest U.S. fur industry association, the number of designers who use fur has dramatically increased, climbing from 42 in 1985 to approximately 500 today. FICA also asserts that 55% of the people who buy fur today are under 44, dispelling the myth that fur is primarily consumed by older people.
A 2015 article published in the Guardian documented the rise of the fur industry.
“The fur industry’s statistics reflect what we’re seeing in the streets — that fur consumption is on the rise,” said Edita Birnkrant, Campaigns Director for Friends of Animals, an international animal advocacy group. “For the sake of the animals, we have to organize and take a more aggressive approach on their behalf.”
Friends of Animals holds in store protests and puts up anti-fur billboards.
The increase in fur sales can be attributed to many variables, including high demand from China; the use of technology to make fur suitable for warm climates; the growing use of fur trim; the increased use of fur in men’s clothing; the growing practice of dying fur; and the consumption of fur among celebrities with a large social media following. According to Mark Oaten, CEO of the International Fur Federation, “…with this increase in demand, farmers are deciding to invest more in fur farms and increase production.”
Dying fur and the growing use of fur trim have led to an increase in fur sales and, by extension, the number of fur farms.
While the animal rights community appears to be losing the war against the fur trade (despite occasional victories), some activists have responded to the increased prevalence of fur by engaging in more provocative anti-fur tactics. During the past several winters, activists Robert Banks and Angela Dee from NYC, the nation’s fur capital (according to FICA), have posted videos on social media in which they publicly shame fur wearers. The videos, which also include graphic footage of animal cruelty in the fur industry, have garnered millions of views. “If people know that by wearing fur they are risking public humiliation, perhaps they will think twice before draping themselves in the skins of tortured and murdered animals,” said Robert Banks.
Many self-proclaimed animal rights activists have denounced their tactics, claiming that they are misogynistic. In response to this allegation, Angela Dee said “It is not our fault that most fur wearers are women. By this logic, shouldn’t protesting rape also be sexist since most rapists are men?”
Anti-fur activists shaming fur wearers
One of their videos has made an especially large impact. It shows a trapped coyote being shot dead juxtaposed with the logo of Canada Goose, a Canadian manufacturer of luxury apparel that uses real coyote fur. After being promoted by PETA, the video, which was viewed over 16 million times on Facebook, triggered a Twitter campaign. Canada Goose took notice and responded with a Facebook post stating, “In response to the recent campaign from PETA, we know and deeply respect that whether or not people want to wear fur is a personal choice…We read and hear all of your feedback.” Canada Goose also claimed that its fur is “responsibly sourced.”
Canada Goose responded to the video and PETA’s campaign with a Facebook post
According to Born Free USA, a national animal advocacy organization, over 50 million animals are killed every year by the fur industry across the globe. Fur farmed animals spend their lives in small cages where they go insane from the stress of confinement and rarely receive veterinary care. The animals are killed in ways that are inexpensive and that do the least damage to their pelts — gassing, anal/vaginal electrocution, neck breaking, poisoning, or by bludgeoning them to death. Wild caught animals can suffer for days in painful traps and snares from exposure to the elements, hunger, and thirst before being shot or bludgeoned to death by a trapper. According to Born Free USA, the number of trappers in the U.S. has increased by 20% since 2004.
Fur farmed animals spend their lives in filthy, overcrowded cages and rarely receive veterinary care.
Most fur comes from China where animal protection laws are virtually non-existent. PETA undercover investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed animals being skinned alive. They have also shown that dogs and cats are kidnapped and sold into the fur trade.
Investigations on Chinese fur farms have revealed horrific cruelty and that dogs and cats are killed for their fur.
Contact your House representative and ask him/her to co-sponsor the “Public Safety and Wildlife Protection Act” which would “ban the import, export, and interstate commerce of both steel-jaw leghold traps and Conifer traps,” two of the cruelest devices used to capture fur-bearing animals.
If you see someone wearing fur, film your encounter and post it on social media.
As tens of thousands of New Yorkers and tourists descend upon the Fifth Avenue shopping district in NYC during the holiday season, animal rights activists are staging confrontational, educational, disruptive and highly-charged protests to curb the consumption of fur.
On December 13th, Caring Activists Against Fur demonstrated at the entrance of the Fur Source of New York, using video, posters and handouts to turn away potential customers while shaming those who dared to enter. During the two hour protest, the 15-20 customers who entered the store left empty-handed.
This woman said that she entered the store “to spite” the activists, even though they engaged with her politely before she entered.
In early December, Friends of Animals unveiled a “Flip Off Fur” billboard in Times Square and staged a highly-charged in-store protest at a retail store called Prato. According to Edita Birnkrant, FOA’s Campaign Director, the owner “flipped out,” and all of the customers evacuated the store.
Animal rights activists occupy the NYC fur store Prato
After occupying Prato, the activists staged a disruption at the Manhattan showroom of notorious fur designer Jason Wu. The employees, who locked themselves in, hid behind the mannequins as activists pasted the entrance with “Flip Off Fur stickers” and used a bullhorn to explain why they were targeting Jason Wu.
Activists paste “Flip Off Fur” stickers at the entrance of the Jason Wu showroom
Michael Dolling (left) and Bernard Jones “flip off fur” near the FOA billboard in Times Square
In late November, Jane Velez-Mitchell of JaneUnChained documented the confrontations between activists and fur wearers during a Caring Activists Against Fur protest at the luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman. While encouraging shoppers to watch the video being displayed by the activists, one man told Velez-Mitchell, “I’d like to punch you in the face.”
On December 11th, several anti-fur activists blocked Lady Gaga’s SUV as she left a gala in NYC and used a megaphone to confront her about the cruelty of her fur consumption. In less than one week, the video has been viewed by over 80,000 people and has received over 1,100 comments.