New revelations of animal cruelty on fur farms
Leader of fur producers’ organisation admits shortcomings on his farm
The animal rights organisation Oikeutta eläimille (Justice for Animals) has released new video footage taken at fur farms, showing foxes and minks suffering from various illnesses. This time, however, the pictures were taken at fur farms owned by leading figures in the main fur farming association in Finland.
The material shows animals with eye infections, stress behaviour, wounds, and bites. Some of the material was broadcast on Wednesday on a current affairs programme screened by the commercial television network MTV3.
Laura Hänninen, doctor of veterinary medicine at the University of Helsinki, reviewed the material at the request of Helsingin Sanomat.
She said that based on the pictures alone, it is impossible to make any definite assessments of the health of the animals.
"There seem to be sick animals, and there appear to be many eye infections. It seems that the [fur] business has not rectified all of its methods. Sick animals should be isolated.”
“But the cages all seem to be in good shape, the animals have stimulating toys and shelves. The legal norms appear to have been met.”
The farms in the videos are those of Ulf Enroth, chairman of the Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association, Jorma Kauppila, chairman of the board of the company Finnish Fur Sales, and Esa Rantakangas, chairman of the Northern Finland branch of the Fur Breeders’ Association.
Rantakangas and Kauppila conceded that the video material is genuine. Enroth has been travelling, and could not be reached by Helsingin Sanomat.
“I saw about a minute of the material. There were eye infections, some of which are under treatment, but unfortunately there were animals whose treatment had not begun”, Rantakangas says.
Last week Rantakangas said in an interview with MTV3 that the shortcomings in the branch were caused by a few “rotten apples”.
Now his own farm is evidence that failings are more widespread.
The Regional Administrative Agency in the area says that inspections are conducted at fur farms. However, inspectors in Ostrobothnia say that
the focus on fur farms is interfering with other work.
“We are working with limited resources”, notes regional administrative veterinarian Annikki Latvala-Kiesilä.
Shocking pictures from fur farms have been around for years. Jaana Mikkola, the director of the animal health and welfare unit of the Finnish Food Safety Authority (EVIRA), does not think that the problems will ever be fully resolved.
"It is as hard to achieve as bringing all reckless drivers on the road under control. We can increase supervision, but all of the shortcomings cannot be eliminated.”
The next government is to handle proposals for an extensive reform of animal welfare legislation.
“The present law does not guarantee well-being for production animals - just a minimum level to see that they do not suffer. Many are demanding that the animals should be given more. There will be a big debate on animal rights.”
Previously in HS International Edition:
Agriculture Minister urges fur farmers to shape up (19.2.2010)
Animal rights group releases shocker video of fur farm conditions (18.2.2010)
The Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association (STKL)