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.
Animal rights activists in New York City blocked Lady Gaga’s SUV as she left a Billboard Women in Music gala in midtown. The protesters said that Lady Gaga appeared to turn up the volume on her radio in an effort to tune out the activists, who used a megaphone to inform her that the “50 dead animals” on each of her fur coats were either “gassed, anally electrocuted or skinned alive.”
Lady Gaga glamorizes fur
Animals First told TheirTurn that Gaga could not escape the activists because her SUV was stuck in heavy midtown traffic and that, when the traffic did clear, her driver ran a red light.
Activists said that Lady Gaga appeared to turn up the volume on her radio to drown out the protest
Animal rights activists confront Lady Gaga about the cruelty of fur
Activists are pushed out of the way as Lady Gaga enters her SUV
In recent months, the same activists have staged provocative anti-fur protests targeting Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Amber Rose, the hip hop artist. Media outlets in the U.S. and Europe reported on all of the protests, and videos taken by the activists have been viewed over five million times on YouTube and other social media platforms.
On a weekend day that should have been busy at The Fur Source, a large fur retailer in NYC, at least a dozen shoppers quickly changed their mind after entering the store, telling protesters that their presence awakened them. “That lady gave me one of these [flyers] and, after reading it, I just couldn’t do it to the animals,” said one shopper who exited the store within two minutes of entering.
Several other shoppers who changed their minds upon entering the store gave activists a thumbs up on their way out.
Shopper leaves fur store after reading CAAF’s handout
Store employees, some of whom displayed placards on nearby street corners to lure in customers, were visibly distraught that the shoppers who they convinced to visit the store felt compelled to leave because of the ant-fur handout they received.
Store employees who lured in shoppers from street corners grew increasingly frustrated as potential customers changed their mind about entering the store
During the two hours that protesters lined the street in front of the Fur Source, not one shopper exited the store with a package or shopping bag.
Roberto Bonelli with CAAF and the Animals Batallion
The protest, organized by Caring Activists Against Fur (CAAF), was one of many staged each year at the Fur Source during the fall and winter months.
On November 21st, the Anti-Fur Society is hosting an cruelty-free conference followed by a fashion show hosted by fashion designer John Bartlett. For details, please visit the website for the Anti-Fur Society Conference.
Jane Velez-Mitchell of Jane UnChained spoke to the designer about the highly-anticipated event.
On November 22nd, CAAF is staging its annual an anti-fur march in the midtown Manhattan’s shopping district.
On November 29th, CAAF is staging a protest at the Fur Source.