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Animals Used For Clothing

Animals Used For Clothing

Clothes say a lot about us.  Whether “professional”, “artistic”, “outdoorsy” or “minimalist”, our personal style makes a statement.  Now your clothing choices can also say  “compassionate” and “loves animals”!

Most of us don’t often think about where our shoes and clothes came from.  But the reality is that billions of animals suffer and die simply so we can use their skin and fur for “fashion”. The good news is that now there are a variety of super stylish fashions available made from synthetic materials that don’t cause any animal suffering.  Learn the facts so that your fashion always says, “cruelty-free”!


While many people would think twice before wearing fur, they may not have thought much about items labeled as leather or sheep, lamb or calf skin.  We often don’t consider the fact that the materials we are so accustomed to seeing on labels for shoes, handbags and other accessories are describing the skin of an animal who was once alive.  This skin is tanned treated with a chemical cocktail to avoid decomposition and obtain the desired color.  And since it is virtually impossible to tell animal hides apart once they are tanned, many people are horrified to learn that dog skins are often marketed and sold as “leather” substitutes in a variety of products.

Other people may assume that they are simply putting to use products are “by-products” of the meat industry.  However, the leather and sheepskin industries exist on their own and wouldn’t be here without consumer demand.

If you don’t want to support these industries, please look for man-made materials when buying shoes, coats, bags, furniture and wallets. They’re often less expensive and they’re definitely more humane.


Whether it came from an animal on a fur farm or one who was trapped in the wild, every fur coat or bit of fur trim caused an animal tremendous suffering—and took away a life.

Animals on fur farms spend their entire lives confined to cramped, filthy wire cages. In an effort to avoid any “damage” to the fur pelt, farmers kill the animals by suffocating, gassing or poisoning them, or by inserting an electrified rod into their anuses and electrocuting them from the inside out.

You may think that it’s only foxes and minks that endure this horrific treatment but many cats and dogs are also used for their skins and they suffer the same intense confinement and brutal killing methods as other animals used in the fur industry. Many products are intentionally mislabeled and most people don’t even realize they’re wearing clothes made from the fur of a dog or cat.


What could be more natural than a wool sweater, right?  Unfortunately, nothing could be more wrong.  An enormous amount of suffering is  involved in the raising and exploitation of sheep for their wool.

Before humans began using sheep for their wool, sheep produced only enough wool to protect themselves from the cold and did not require shearing. However, domestic sheep today have been selectively bred to produce more wool than is natural,  resulting in a multitude of painful issues.

The unnatural overload of wool on their bodies causes many sheep to collapse and even die of heat exhaustion during hot months, and the wrinkles collect urine and moisture. Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of skin, and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive.

To prevent this so-called “flystrike,” ranchers perform a barbaric procedure called “mulesing,” in which they force live sheep onto their backs, restrain their legs between metal bars, and, usually without any painkillers carve huge chunks of skin away from the animals’ backsides or attach vise-like clamps to their flesh until it dies and sloughs off. Both procedures are terribly painful.  This is so horrifying it can sound impossible. But sadly, it is true.


When we think of warm coats and cozy comforters we might assume that something filled with “down” is a good option.   But unfortunately, there’s nothing warm and cozy about how down is produced.

Down is actually feathers from geese.  Like other industries, the down industry is interested in maximizing profits, not caring for animals. Geese used for down have their feathers literally plucked out of them without any pain medication. This is incredibly painful and disorienting. The frightened animals are often held upside down, between the legs of the workers while large chunks of their feathers are pulled out of their skin. Please consider choosing alternatives to down when purchasing clothing or bedding – they are just as warm and cruelty-free.


Fortunately today there are many great looking man-made materials that will keep us warm, dry and stylish. Visit our Living Cruelty Free page for more information and product substitution ideas.

A cow being skinned for leather.
A cow being skinned for leather. © Animal Equality International
Dogs waiting to be killed for their fur.
Dogs waiting to be killed for their fur. © Animal Equality International
Sheep undergoing mulesing.
Sheep undergoing mulesing. © ALV/Patty Mark
Goose after being plucked.
Goose after being plucked.
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