On October 12th, Governor of California Gavin Newsom announced that he had signed the most progressive animal rights law in U.S. history, and that bills like AB-44 had been approved on this day. Consequently, starting in 2023, it will be prohibited to
manufacture, sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, give, donate or otherwise distribute
fur products such as fur-trimmed clothing, handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, shawls, gloves, key chains, that are made from fox, rabbit, coyote, etc. in the state of California, with the exception of religious purposes or secondhand trades.
Infringement could result in a civil penalty of up to US $500.
Among other bills passed on the 12th are ones in which the use of wild animals, including elephants and tigers, in circuses is prohibited. Hunting bobcats and lynxes is also forbidden.
We enthusiastically support this bill, and consider this a crucial stepping-stone in stirring up a larger global movement that would not only raise awareness of the fur issue, but also of other controversial animal rights topics such as circuses and hunting.
Sales of fur products have already been banned in other U.S. cities like West Hollywood, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and there is a movement to ban fur in New York City, too. Fur production has already been banned for more than 10 years in various European countries: England and Wales (2000) and Northern Ireland (2002,) Austria (2004,) Croatia (2014,) and the Netherlands (2013.) In Switzerland and Germany, production of fur products from foxes and other animals is strictly regulated, and there are a plethora of other anti-fur movements around the world.
However, in South Korea, where the importing and sale of fur products is the highest in the world, most of the fur products are imported from China, where the fur is ripped from the animals while they are still alive.
Even dogs and cats, which we consider pets, are used in fur production.
The amendment to the South Korean customs law, which we have been advocating with Assemblywoman Jeong-mi Lee, to regulate the importation of dog and cat fur, has not even been presented to the National Assembly yet. The South Korean government as well as the fashion industry have been indifferent to the issue of inhumane fur production.
Unless representatives in South Korean politics, media, culture, and other walks of life take the lead in spreading awareness, this issue will remain stagnant.
There are critical misconceptions fostered by deficient and faulty policies, mass media, and popular culture that overlook the issue and generalize that South Korean animal rights laws protect all types of animals, while in actuality, the current laws are mainly focused on animals we consider “pets.” Though there are ongoing debates on laws based on types of animals, there still aren’t distinctive laws that protect animals that are not dogs and cats. Thus, we’re at a stalemate with regards to laws that should be protecting wild and farmed animals as well.
We will continue to strive for the establishment of more foundational laws for animals that are often not in the spotlight, in the hopes that cruel practices such as fur production, wild animal circuses, and hunting are one day banned in South Korea as they are now in California.