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How to shop fur-free this holiday season
Fur farms now produce about 85% of the world’s fur, of which China – with no legal animal welfare protection and appalling conditions for farmed animals – is now responsible for four-fifths of pelt (fur) production. After a downturn in the industry years ago, fur is now enjoying a resurgence thanks to ever-cheaper production, largely in China, a growing international consumer base, and ignorance or indifference among the public about the suffering of animals farmed for fur. As faux fur becomes more realistic-looking and real fur becomes harder to identify – because of increased use of dyes – WSPA has identified a few ways in which consumers can tell the difference between the two.

WSPA announces new Director General
Peter’s retirement marks the end of a very successful chapter for the organization, during which WSPA saw massive growth and development – not just in size, but in capacity and ability to influence policy and legislation worldwide. Peter Davies said, “When I reflect on my time here, there is much WSPA has to be proud of – not least our creation of this truly global animal welfare movement. Today, WSPA has a presence in over 150 countries around the world and the commitment displayed by every member of this alliance has allowed for some truly impressive achievements – the sound of so many voices speaking on individual issues has been a powerful tool for advancing global animal welfare.” Through partnership with hundreds of member societies we strive to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends.

Regional winners announced in anti-fur design competition
Student entrants from around the world are asked to capture the imagination of fashion consumers with the message that wearing fur is cruel and unnecessary. The fur trim industry is now worth half a billion dollars a year, with China being the largest producer and exporter of fur trim and accessories. For further information about fur farming, fur bearing animals and more consumer tips - including a guide on telling fake from real fur - visit the Fur Free Alliance website. November offers you the chance to vote in the Design Against Fur poster competition and influence which anti-fur artwork will win the People's Choice prize.

Israel in world first fur ban vote
The Knesset will vote on whether to introduce a complete ban on all fur production and sales. Campaigners in Israel say the outlook is positive and the majority of politicians are backing the bill. By taking the logical step and simply banning fur in its entirety, Israel would set an amazing global precedent – it would be hugely significant for the animal welfare movement and send a clear message to the fur industry. Please also link to this story if you are active on blogs and/or social networks such as facebook and twitter to show your public support for this trailblazing move from Israel.

WSPA Board and Advisory Council announced
Mark Watts, Cecilia Vega Leon and Chinny Krishna WSPA welcomed three new Board members at the 2008 annual general meeting, held on June 3. Cecilia Vega Leon (Mexico), Chinny Krishna (India) and Mark Watts (UK) will also serve on the Advisory Council. The new Board members join some experienced colleagues. Following the meeting, the Board elected new WSPA Officers for the coming year: Dominique Bellemare (Canada) as President, Professor Ranald Munro (UK), as Senior Vice President Hanja Maji-Weggen (Netherlands) as Junior Vice President, Andrew Rowan (USA) as Treasurer and Peter Mason (New Zealand) as Secretary. Read more about WSPA, who we are and what we do >>

‘Ethical’ fur exposed: the case for a fur-free Christmas
A film released this month has exposed the horrifying extent of animal suffering in Norway’s fur farms, providing a timely reminder of the true cost of fur and fur-trims for all seasonal shoppers. Norway already has legislation to protect fur animals and in 1998 the government even warned that fur farming would be phased out unless conditions for animals improved. Fur farming can only exist in response to consumer demand, which has growth in recent years. You can make a stand against cruelty by refusing to buy fur and by telling your friends what is really involved in making a fur coat or fur trim.

Farm animal victory in the USA
WSPA congratulates member societies the Humane Society of the United States and the Farm Sanctuary for their work, along with other US-based animal welfare groups, in improving the lives of thousands of farm animals. In many of these countries the practice of cruel, intensive factory farming is exploding. The project will act as a flagship example of alternative farming systems for chickens, pigs and cows that adhere to improved welfare standards. The project also aims to raise awareness of inhumane farming practices and encourages Brazilian and Chinese consumers to purchase meats, milks and eggs that have been reared on farms that take the animal’s welfare into consideration.

Be fur free: a consumer guide
The fur industry is responsible for the intense suffering and death of over 100 million animals every year. While 85% of animals used to produce fur are commercially farmed, some are wild-caught and die in inhumane traps. Most fur animals are killed for their first winter coat, when they are about eight months old. So high quality fur products do not indicate a lifetime of wellbeing – rather that the animal only shed its filthy, matted infant fur just before death. This confirms that the power to stop production lies with the consumer – the industry grows or declines with public demand.

Dr Gus Thornton, a former WSPA president, has died following a long illness
Dr Thornton and his granddaughter Rose © Courtesy of the MSPCA-Angell He grew up and went to veterinary school in Oklahoma, USA. Through his work for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), he helped WSPA set up its first office and later served two years as WSPA President. Mike Baker, Director General of WSPA, said: “He was a great veterinarian and humanitarian, and he was a true leader in both fields, nationally and internationally. He cared so very deeply about animals and people, was a kind and generous person, and he spent his life helping others….he will be greatly missed.”

WSPA names Disaster Management Director
For more than 25 years WSPA has worked with the animal victims of disasters, and is often the first, and sometimes the only organization that will go to the heart of a disaster to save animals. This aspect of WSPA's work can be traced back to a landmark project in 1964 when WSPA staff directed the successful rescue and relocation of almost 10,000 animals in Suriname, South America, when 600 square miles of rain forest was purposely flooded during the construction of a hydroelectric dam. In addition to deploying disaster relief teams, WSPA has also implemented numerous long-term recovery projects to assist in affected areas.

WSPA launches new website to educate Traditional Asian Medicine users on bear farming
More than 12,000 endangered Asiatic black bears are cruelly confined in bear farms, facilities at which many are kept in tiny cages and their bile is regularly extracted and sold for use in Traditional Asian Medicine (TAM). WSPA has encouraged traditional medicine groups worldwide to support a statement agreeing that there are good herbal alternatives to bear bile - 71 traditional Asian medicine associations from eight countries have already expressed their support. The letters sent to retailers will include a link for retailers to learn more about bear farming and obtain a template letter (in English or Chinese) that they can use when contacting Chinese companies about their bear bile policies.

Brutal pig slaughter in Egypt
Egyptian authorities are undertaking an unacceptably cruel assault on the pig population in Cairo. Pigs being hit with iron bars, scooped up into bulldozers and flung into pits to be burned alive with chemicals; these are the truly distressing visuals that appeared as the Egyptian media started to report on the cruel methods being used in the cull. Initial reports suggested that the pig cull in Egypt was intended as a precaution against the spread of the ‘swine flu’ infection from pigs to humans. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has explicitly stated that culling is an inappropriate reaction to the outbreak of swine flu, as there is no known link between the flu and pigs.

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A stray dog that has survived flooding, Colombia