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Undercover investigation reveals terrible animal suffering on Polish fur farm, government proposes ban on breeding

Poland is the world's third biggest fur producer, after China and Denmark. There are around 550 fur farms in Poland breeding some 5.2 million animals.

FUR FOR ANIMALS: Following recent revelations about the suffering on mink on French fur farms, we can also reveal a major undercover investigation in Poland. Respect for Animals’ colleagues at the Fur Free Alliance, Otwarte Klatki, conducted a two-month long investigation using an activist as an undercover farm employee. The farm, in Goreczki, is considered to be the biggest mink farm in the world, with around 500,000 animals kept in small cages.

The worker documented shocking cases of cannibalism, open wounds and untreated sick animals. He also recorded the reality of working conditions on fur farms: low wages, little training and lack of employment rights. While many animal lovers may have little sympathy for workers on fur farms, this is of real importance because the fur trade is currently trying to reimage itself as sustainable and ethical. These claims are lies and this investigation is further evidence of the moral bankruptcy of the fur industry…

Among the most common welfare problems documented at Wojciech Wójcik’s farm were deep wounds from bites that the animals inflicted on each other while under constant stress. A mink is a wild animal, not very well domesticated, that leads a solitary lifestyle in nature. Forced to share small cages with other animals, they quickly begin to fight among themselves. The feed that was applied to the upper part of the cages often fell on their fur, encouraging others to bite the leftovers directly from the animals’ bodies.

In the footage, we see many animals with deep, open wounds in the head and neck area. Often, however, the animals attacked each other for no apparent reason and the arrangement of adjacent cages even made it possible for animals that were separated to attack each other, which was usually the case when the limb or tail of a mink was hanging from a wire grid within reach of another mink… Many cases of mutual mink aggression have ended with cases of cannibalism…

Cannibalism and aggression are so common on farms that the farmers themselves often refer to the summer period as the ‘cannibalistic phase’, which ends in early autumn when the animals are already fattened up and become lazier, and thus less likely to attack. There is no way to eradicate this behaviour, which is directly related to a breeding system that contradicts the natural behaviour of minks…

In addition to biting wounds and self-inflicted injuries, the employee also documented numerous eye infections, as well as poisoned, convulsive, paralysed and apathetic animals. None of the workers Yevhen worked with committed acts of aggression against animals in his presence. The occasional throwing of animals into cages, for example, during vaccinations, and the separation of the young from their mothers was the result of the high speed of work enforced by the industrial breeding system. The minks pulled out of their cages would defend themselves by biting the workers, and the special gloves used by the workers quickly became worn out and stopped protecting against bites after just a few days. Often the only way to avoid them was to throw the animal vigorously into the cage.

The most injured and sickly animals were sent to a so-called ‘hospital’. This pavilion was no different from the rest of the farm. The weakest animals that could not cope with the stronger ones simply ended up there. Unfortunately, they could still not count on professional care. Workers sent on rotation to work in the ‘hospital’ simply sprinkled the deep wounds with fodder chalk, which in practice only prolonged the animals’ agony. There was nobody with veterinary experience seen by Yevhen. When the animal no longer had the strength to take in food on its own, it was gassed. And so were mothers, who produced a small litter (less than 5 pups). SOURCE…

AFP: As a result of this investigation, the Polish government has recently introduced… legislation that would ban the breeding of animals for fur — a major industry in Poland — and stop exports of halal and kosher meat. “Poland’s standards regarding animals should be no worse, or even better, than those in western countries,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party, said when the legislation was first tabled last week.

Kaczynski, who is known for his love of cats, over the weekend launched the online #stopfurchallenge for people on social media to express their support for the draft amendment. “In the 21st century, it’s possible to look really good without putting on a fur garment,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said ahead of a parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

Lawmakers later voted down a proposal to scrap the bill and sent it to a parliamentary committee for further consideration… after drawing criticism in the countryside — a key electoral base for the PiS — and experts quoted by Gazeta Wyborcza said the economic impact would be around 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion)…

“In the 21st century, it’s possible to look really good without putting on a fur garment,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter ahead of the vote. Polish Nobel literature laureate Olga Tokarczuk has also appealed for the law to be passed, along with US animal rights campaigners PETA… Poland is the world’s third biggest fur producer after China and Denmark, according to activists… Otwarte Klatki (Open Cages), an animal rights group, said there were around 550 fur farms in Poland breeding some 5.2 million animals. SOURCE…

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