MONTREAL—National animal law organization Animal Justice is releasing disturbing new images taken at two Quebec fur farms that show foxes confined in small, barren wire cages, and minks kept in filthy, intensive conditions. Animal Justice believes the animals may be suffering illegally, in violation of provincial animal cruelty laws and the industry’s own codes of practice. The organization has filed a legal complaint with the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ), as well as the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP), and is calling for an immediate inspection of both farms to determine whether charges are warranted.
The images were obtained by photojournalism agency We Animals Media in August, 2022. and provided to Animal Justice. The mink farm is Visonnière Labonté in Thetford Mines, and the fox farm is Les Élevages G.L.H. Fourrures et Fils in Honfleur.
Animal Justice and other organizations, including Quebec-based Humane Society International/Canada, are calling on the Quebec government to ban fur farming, to protect animal welfare and human health. The Montreal SPCA has identified a fur farm ban as one of its top three election issues.
According to Statistics Canada, as of 2021, only one fox farm and two mink farms were still operational in the province, compared to 28 fur farms operating in 2011. The decline of the fur farming industry in Quebec reflects national and global trends. There were over 300 fur farms in Canada in 2011, but fewer than 100 fur farms in 2021—the lowest number of farms on record.
Mink farms risk breeding dangerous COVID-19 mutations, leading British Columbia to ban mink farming in response. Over 20 countries have taken action to end fur farming within their borders, including the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.
“Fur is a dying industry in Quebec, with nearly 90% of the province’s cruel and outdated fur farms closing over the past decade,” said Alanna Devine, a Montreal-based jurist and spokesperson for Animal Justice. “Cramming foxes and minks into barren wire cages for their entire lives deprives them of the ability to fulfill nearly every biological need. It’s standard in the fur industry to gas minks to death, and to kill foxes by anal electrocution. Quebec should follow in BC’s footsteps and ban this antiquated industry that causes immense suffering to animals and exposes people to dangerous public health risks.”
“The animals we documented are living in barren, depressing conditions. The foxes, for example, stand on cage flooring their whole lives, and the minks are living in and over their own filth, which their sensitive noses have to smell each day. We wouldn’t keep our dogs and cats in these lonely, unenriched places. It was incredibly sad to see so many animals living like this,” said the photojournalist who obtained the images, who wishes to remain anonymous.
We Animals Media founder Jo-Anne McArthur, speaking on behalf of the organization and this new research, remarked, “I visited this same mink farm in 2014. We now know that the farm has drastically reduced its operations, with only a few mink sheds still in use. This trend is in keeping with the decline of this dying industry.”
The photos are the first new images released from Quebec fur farms since 2014, when a Montreal SPCA investigation found horrific, dirty conditions on a fox and mink farm, including severe, untreated injuries. The fur farmer was found guilty of three counts of animal cruelty. Despite the appalling conditions consistently seen on fur farms, fur farming is virtually unregulated in Quebec, with no mandatory licenses, permits, or standards of care.
The fur farm images are available here, and can be credited to “We Animals Media”.
We Animals Media