In the event that people are still under the impression that Canadian government bodies would not allow abused animals to continue living in squalid conditions or endure continued suffering, look no further than a fur farm in the southwest region of Montérégie, Quebec. Five days ago, several news outlets reported that a farm in St-Hyacinthe, which has about 100 foxes and nearly 10,000 mink being bred for their fur, was under investigation by Quebec’s Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks.
The initial complaint of animal cruelty (I refuse to use the word “alleged” after seeing some of the footage) was received by the Montreal SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and they obtained a warrant to investigate in May of this year. After taking video and photos of the farm, they sent the evidence onto the Ministry since the case fell under their jurisdiction. The SPCA recommended to the Ministry that the animals be removed immediately. Despite several official visits by the Ministry since July (the month the provincial inspectors finally decided to drop by), nothing has been done. The SPCA does not have the power to remove wildlife animals; what they do is build a case and present it to authorities who do have the power to shut the farm down or lay charges against the owner. But alas, aside from euthanizing 4 foxes, 1 mink and seizing 16 foxes of a certain breed that were not allowed to be kept without a permit, these animals continue to languish away.
Here’s what the inspectors – and Head Veterinarian for the Province – took so long to see for themselves and continue to walk away from each visit:
– Rows and rows of small wire cages, filled with dead, dying and emaciated animals.
– Animals with broken toes, missing teeth, broken legs, lesions on their tails and one animal missing an eye.
– Mink with the top of their skulls eaten away, their brains exposed, but still alive.
– Animals with no water or food supply.
– Animals with oozing and infected sores.
Another veterinarian who inspected the animals at the request of the SPCA was much more specific:
“Dehydration was evident in all 91 foxes. Emaciation or starvation was present in many of the animals….most had ear and eye infections, and several had growths in their abdomen and various injuries.”
As if it weren’t horrifying enough, in Quebec, not only are fur farms completely unregulated, you don’t even need a permit if you have 10 or more mink or foxes, the logic of which would make Spock’s head explode. And because they’re not regulated, they are not investigated at all unless there is a complaint.
As an added what-the-fuck bonus, the owner of the farm faced 262 counts of animal cruelty in 1996 when he ran a puppy mill – he was found guilty on 32 counts and the rest were dismissed.
And just in case your jaw is still closed, here’s a statement from the Provincial veterinarian:
“Our approach is a little different than the SPCA. We preferred to leave the animals where they were for the time being.”
Because the farm owner – you remember, the one with the criminal record for cruelty to animals – was “given the chance to clean up his act” and “complied with urgent requests to water the animals, clean the cages and provide veterinary care.” In fact, according to the vet, “As of Wednesday (last), I can assure you that everything is resolved.”
From the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, in an official statement on the situation:
“Protection officers intervened with the goal of stopping the abuse and restoring the situation,” which is very different from “Protection officers intervened and stopped the abuse, restoring the situation.”
The rhetoric from other fur farm owners has already started too: it’s an isolated incident, you can only produce quality by giving excellent care to animals, we know this person and we don’t believe that it’s negligence and blah, fuckety blah. Even if you do give “excellent care” while the animals are alive, these farms are breeding foxes and mink so they can kill their offspring – typically via gas or electrocution – take their skin off and sell it for humans to parade around in. Yeah. Real excellent care.
The saddest of all? No one cares. If these animals were dogs and cats, the general public would be burning that farmer in effigy and the Ministry would be tripping over themselves to see who could save the animals the fastest.
But foxes and mink? For fur? Meh.