San Francisco Fur Ban Stands After Appeal is Dropped
International Fur Trade Federation agreed to dismiss its appeal, ending case in decisive victory for animals
SAN FRANCISCO — This week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the International Fur Trade Federation’s appeal in the trade group’s challenge to the constitutionality of San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur products. The Federation agreed to the dismissal of its appeal with prejudice, leaving the City’s fur ban enforceable and clear from challenge. The Federation filed its lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco in January 2020. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States intervened in the lawsuit to defend the ordinance’s constitutionality and preserve the city of San Francisco’s right to ban fur.
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 2019 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 similar humane legislation in 2019. The San Francisco ordinance is aimed at preventing animal cruelty and environmental impacts associated with fur production by banning sales in the City. With the wide array of faux fur products and similar alternatives available to the fashion industry, opposition to such measures has decreased.
More than a year after the ordinance took effect, the International Fur Trade Federation responded by filing a lawsuit which sought to strike it down as unconstitutional. The court disagreed, holding that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not preclude San Francisco from ridding its marketplace of cruel fur products, and that the fur ban is enforceable against both local retailers and online retailers who have a physical location in the City.
“The San Francisco fur ban is constitutional and enforceable,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “Measures to ban fur farming are on the rise — especially in light of the risk of zoonotic disease and spillover events due to the extreme confinement animals are caged in — and we foresee momentum increasing.”
Animal fur — from animals like foxes, minks, raccoon dogs, and many others — is produced under inhumane conditions to prevent imperfections to the skin and allow for large-scale production. Animals are kept in small, filthy cages — typically stacked on top of one another, with waste falling onto the occupant below. Unable to engage in any of their natural behaviors, animals on fur farms routinely resort to self-mutilation, obsessive pacing, and infanticide before being suffocated, gassed, poisoned, or electrocuted. 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.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund thanks the law firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP for providing pro bono representation in the case.
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