The animal-rights group is showing lawmakers how brutal the traps are as the City Council considers a ban on fur sales.
By Noah Manskar, Patch Staff | |
As the City Council considers banning fur sales, Dan Mathews, a senior vice president at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has been snapping pencils with one of those traps to show lawmakers just how brutal the fur trade is.
“Some of the shards of the pencil fly eight feet across the room and they imagine that being an animal’s bone — it puts a visceral face on a talking point,” said Mathews, who has met over the last several weeks with half a dozen Council members, including Speaker Corey Johnson.
PETA is training its activists to show the traps off more widely and producing a video featuring the designer Stella McCartney to educate consumers about them, Mathews said.
“People have commented that it looks like something out of a medieval torture museum,” Mathews said. “And I think when people realize that there are thousands of these in use today capturing animals — not just coyotes but all sorts of wildlife and family dogs — it becomes a very simple issue.”
The so-called leghold trap Mathews demonstrated for Patch on Thursday snapped in the blink of an eye. Food is used to lure coyotes to the devices, which go for as little as $10 online. But they inadvertently capture other creatures such as dogs, cats, songbirds and owls — which trappers call “trash animals,” Mathews said.
New York State is home to about 10,000 trappers. Leghold traps are used throughout the state, including just north of the city in Westchester County, Mathews said.
State law bans leg-gripping traps with teeth and requires trappers in most parts of the state to visit their traps every 24 hours. But such rules are hard to enforce, as only the trappers generally know where the traps are set, Mathews said.
Mathews expects a tough fight over the proposed fur ban despite Johnson’s support for it. The bill would bar retailers from selling fur apparel and fine those who get caught.
Johnson has argued the measure would help protect animals. But longtime Manhattan furrier Jerry Sorbara, whose store is on West 32nd Street, says it could put him out of business.
“It’s gonna escalate to that you cannot even walk in the street and they come and see what kind of shoes you (are) wearing, and they will kill you if you wear something that is not right,” said Sorbara, 80, who opened his custom fur business in 1975. “I think it’s really insane what they’re doing.”
While Johnson’s bill would let merchants sell used fur items, Sorbara said only “a handful” of people sell used fur coats. The ban could also hurt parts of the fashion industry that make other components of fur garments such as buttons and linings, he said.
Sorbara said he uses furs from farm-raised minks, chinchillas and sables — not trapped animals. He’s even made a miniature mink coat for a customer’s dog.
“You mean to say … that we don’t love animals? Are you kidding me?” Sorbara said.