California could go fur free

Imagine a world where everyone gets to keep her own skin.

California Assembly member Laura Friedman dared to imagine it. She proposes a law that would make it illegal to sell fur products in California.

Wild minks are semi-aquatic animals with no real capacity for domestication.

If passed, Assembly Bill 44 would shut down imports of animal fur from other states and abroad and require California fur farmers and retailers to re-purpose their businesses.

No longer would an emerging starlet be able to drop into a Beverly Hills furrier and spend her latest royalty check on a murdered mink.

It doesn’t do to think about where fur comes from if you want to sleep at night.

Minks, for instance, cannot really be domesticated. Genetically programmed to move between land and sea in relative isolation, the caged mink lives in terror and madness, denied the opportunity to roam and swim.

And, if you buy a fur, you can’t really be sure that it was even farmed. It’s about as likely to have been trapped. It may or may not be a wild animal. Almost no fur-bearing animal is safe.

Even some very conservative news outlets have darkly insinuated that your family pet could end up on someone’s back if you don’t keep Fido out of a nearby trap.

And the news gets even worse and weirder. There’s really no guarantee that so-called faux fur or fake fur is really fake. According to several animal rights groups, it could just as easily be real fur posing as fake.

My brain hurts, doing the math on this, but it seems it’s cheaper to kill and skin a dog or coyote than to manufacture an actual synthetic coat.

If AB 44 passes, California will be the first state in the United States to ban fur.

“This is history,” says Leslie Goldberg, a former San Francisco newspaper reporter and organizer for Compassionate Cities. “The animal rights movement has been fighting to end fur for fifty years.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States are working together to push the bill through. As of this writing, the bill is under review with California’s Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee.

Becoming law requires the bill to jump through quite a few more hoops before landing on the Governor’s desk.

Goldberg is optimistic about the bill’s chances. based on California’s history of supporting animal rights and a strong Democratic legislature.

“California has been pretty strong on animal rights,” she notes, adding that there is strong Democratic representation in the state legislature.

In general, the United States lags behind some other countries that have already banned fur. In the United Kingdom, fur farming is no longer legal. The good people at Fur Free Alliance have compiled an exhaustive list of countries with fur bans.

Other states may well follow suit if California sets a fur-free precedent.

“The country is with us,” Goldberg avers. “Poll after poll show that people are concerned about animals.”