Animal Groups Defend San Francisco Fur Ban
Animal protection organizations allowed to intervene in International Fur Federation lawsuit challenging ordinance’s constitutionality
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted a motion for the Animal Legal Defense Fund and The Humane Society of the United States to intervene and defend San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur products.
Spearheaded by San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, the fur ban was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2018 and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 (while allowing retailers until the end of last year to sell off existing inventory). San Francisco’s ban built on the successes of West Hollywood and Berkeley passing similar legislation, and paved the way for Los Angeles and finally, the state of California, to pass such humane legislation in 2019. Given the wide array of faux fur products and similar alternatives available to the fashion industry, the San Francisco ordinance was aimed at preventing animal cruelty and environmental contamination associated with fur production by banning fur sales in the City.
More than a year after the ordinance took effect, the International Fur Federation responded by filing a lawsuit which seeks to strike it down as unconstitutional, contending it violates the dormant commerce clause. Having campaigned for years to pass ordinances and laws banning fur throughout California and across the country, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and The Humane Society of the United States stepped in, as they have in defense of numerous other humane measures, to defend the ordinance’s constitutionality and preserve San Francisco’s right to ban fur.
“San Francisco passed this critical measure with overwhelming support from The Board of Supervisors, as it furthers their constituents’ desire to protect animals from harm by removing local demand for products from an industry that has long been a poster child for cruelty,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “San Francisco was well within its rights to adopt this ordinance, and we are prepared to litigate this case vigorously to preserve this important measure.”
“San Francisco cemented its reputation as a leader in the fight against animal cruelty when it unanimously passed the fur ban,” said Nicholas Arrivo, Staff Attorney for The Humane Society of the United States. “We are committed to defending San Francisco’s – and every city’s – right to prohibit the sale of cruelly produced animal products in the local market.”
Animal fur—from animals like foxes, minks, raccoon dogs, and many others—is often produced under inhumane conditions to maintain the integrity of the skin, also known as the pelt. Animals are kept in small, unkempt cages before being suffocated, electrocuted, gassed, or poisoned. In anal or vaginal electrocution, electrodes are attached to the animal’s face and genitals to induce a heart attack. Animals are commonly skinned alive with no painkillers while fully conscious. Unable to engage in any of their natural behaviors, animals on fur farms routinely resort to self-mutilation, obsessive pacing, and infanticide.
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For years, captive wild animals have suffered in the care of traveling zoo operator Robert Sawmiller. On December 9, 2020 two wolves and a Labrador named Fancy were rescued and transported to sanctuary through legal action brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.