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In the News: Fur

Why do we call some animals pets and others dinner?  Well, why do we call some animals pets and others fur coats?

Activists Disrupt Fur Store Business

By Brian Harmon

The following article appeared in The Detroit News on September 10, 1998.

A trio of animal rights activists besieged a Bloomfield Hills fur shop Wednesday, chaining themeselves to fixtures inside and outside the store during lunch hour.

Gary Yourofsky, 28, of Royal Oak, used a bicycle u-lock to moor his neck to the rear wheel axle of his burgundy 1992 Toyota Corolla, which was parked on the sidewalk in front of the entrance to Dittrich Furs. His objective: "To call attention to the bloody business of fur."

Gary Yourofsky, 28, uses a bicycle U-lock to moor his neck to a rear axle of a car.

CAPTION: Gary Yourofsky, 28, uses a bicycle U-lock to moor his neck to a rear axle of a car.

"You're illegal," a store manager barked at Yourofsky, while Bloomfield Hills police and fire officers worked to cut the activists loose. "We want to conduct business."

Yourofsky—president of ADAPTT—was joined by Marie Mason of Hamtramck, who locked her neck to the door handles of the store entrance, and Laura Rogers, 33, of Royal Oak, who locked herself down inside the fur store.

The three were freed within an hour, handcuffed and ticketed for trespassing. Within hours, they were released from police custody.

"They have an agenda. It's not our job to judge," Sgt. Ken Forst said. "It's just our job to assist in the situation and make sure nobody gets hurt."

Yourofsky said Dittrich was targeted because the store is sponsoring a fashion show tonight, from which proceeds will go to Children's Hospital of Detroit. "We have asked Children's Hospital not to accept the money. They should not accept unethical funds," he said. "This is blood money. There are better ways to raise money."

Yourofsky said mink, chincillas and foxes are brutally killed in order to make fur clothing. His crusade for animal rights has gotten him arrested at least twice before. Earlier this year he was arrested for protesting the "enslavement of bears and elephants" in front of The Shrine Circus at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. Last year he was arrested along with four others in Blenheim, Ontario, for setting free more than 1,500 mink from a mink ranch.

Entire Fur Industry Vile, Whether Pelts From Dogs, Cats or Chinchillas

By Gary Yourofsky

The following editorial appeared in The Oakland Press (Michigan) on December 22, 1998.

After an 18-month investigation, the Humane Society of the US released appalling information about the fur industry's clandestine and worldwide dealings in domestic dog and cat fur.

Millions of Americans tuned in December 15 to "Dateline NBC" and watched in horror as an Asian dog furrier slowly skinned a German Shepherd alive. The brutality was swiftly condemned by the TV newsmagazine and a majority of Americans who empathized with our closest companion. However, virtually no one wanted to recognize the hypocrisy in not condemning the entire industry of fur.

What's the difference between coyote fur and dog fur? The thought-provoking animal rights adage "Why do we call some animals pets and others dinner?" can be slightly altered to rhetorically answer the first question: "Why do we call some animals pets and others fur coats?"

The continual demarcation of one sentient being over another is unethical and unjustifiable. Moreover, this arbitrary discriminatory mind-set only allows the relentless exploitation of nonhuman animals to flourish. The Humane Society report documented dogs and cats living in deplorable conditions waiting to be hanged, suffocated, bludgeoned or skinned alive.

Minks, foxes and chinchillas live and die in similarly hideous ways. Manual neck-breakings, mass gassings, drownings and toxic chemical injections are the standard killing techniques used on every fur farm. Plus, the snaring of millions of free-raoming animals—such as coyotes, cougars and wolves in vicious steel-jaw leg traps—is vile.

The Humane Society story should shock no one. The fur industry exists to profit off the deaths of fur-bearing animals—domestic or nondomestic. It is void of ethics, compassion and altruism. The animals rights movement exists to eradicate the injustice, iniquity and barbarity hurled upon our planetary companions. It has no money vested in the freedom of animals.

If the depraved forms of animal exploitation were abolished, however, tens of thousands of individuals and corporations would stand to lose hundreds of billion of dollars. Therefore, it is easy to understand why the myriad forms of animal murder, especially the bloody, nefarious and shameless fur trade, escape total condemnation.

Also, those guileful magicians who work for the fur industry's public-relations departments and entice the media with "fur-is-back" stories create a smokescreen of misinformation. The spin doctors manipulate sales figures even though the Sandy Parker Reports, a fur-trade publication, said fur farmers will cut back this season because of low pelt prices, an outbreak of distemper and fur-farm raids.

India's great leader Mohandas Gandhi once said: "The life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature is, the more it is entitled to protection from humans from the cruelty of humans."

Dog Fur Coat Story Not News to Industry Insiders

By Gary Yourofsky

The following editorial appeared in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, Michigan) on December 28, 1998.

After an 18-month investigation, the Humane Society of the US released appalling information about the fur industry's clandestine and worldwide dealings in domestic dog and cat fur.

Millions of Americans tuned in December 15 to "Dateline NBC" and watched in horror as an Asian dog furrier slowly skinned a German Shepherd alive. The brutality was swiftly condemned by the TV newsmagazine and a majority of Americans who empathized with our closest companion. However, virtually no one wanted to recognize the hypocrisy in not condemning the entire industry of fur.

First and foremost, what's the difference between coyote fur and dog fur? The thought-provoking animal rights adage "Why do we call some animals pets and others dinner?" can be slightly altered to rhetorically answer the first question: "Why do we call some animals pets and others fur coats?"

The continual demarcation of one sentient being over another is unethical and unjustifiable. Moreover, this arbitrary discriminatory mind-set only allows the relentless exploitation of nonhuman animals to flourish. The Humane Society report documented dogs and cats living in deplorable conditions waiting to be hanged, suffocated, bludgeoned or skinned alive.

Minks, foxes and chinchillas live and die in similarly hideous ways. Manual neck-breakings, mass gassings, drownings and toxic chemical injections are the standard killing techniques on every fur farm. Plus, the snaring of millions of free-raoming animals—such as coyotes, cougars and wolves in vicious steel-jaw leg traps—is vile.

The Humane Society story should shock no one. The fur industry exists to profit off the deaths of fur-bearing animals—domestic or nondomestic. It is void of ethics, compassion and altruism. Antithetically, the animals rights movement exists to eradicate the injustice, iniquity and barbarity hurled upon our planetary companions. It has no money vested in the freedom of animals.

If the depraved forms of animal exploitation were abolished, however, tens of thousands of individuals and corporations would stand to lose hundreds of billion of dollars. Therefore, it is easy to understand why the myriad forms of animal murder, especially the bloody, nefarious and shameless fur trade, escape total condemnation.

Also, those guileful magicians who work for the fur industry's public-relations departments and entice the media with "fur-is-back" stories create a smokescreen of misinformation. The spin doctors manipulate sales figures even though the Sandy Parker Reports (SPR), a fur-trade publication, said fur farmers will cut back this season because of low pelt prices, an outbreak of distemper and fur-farm raids.

SPR also said that some of the 440 US fur farms are expected to go out of business in early 1999. If the situation doesn't improve by the February auctions, others will sink, too.

Anyone who condones the lamentable industry of fur should call ADAPTT at 810-763-2715 or email DogmaDay@aol.com and request a 4-minute fur farming video. Then, if anyone still believes that any fur is acceptable, I suggest she or he reflect on the meanings of empathy, morality, honor and dignity.

India's great leader Mohandas Gandhi once said: "The life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature is, the more it is entitled to protection from humans from the cruelty of humans."

Fur Protesters Arrested for Blocking Neiman's Door

STAFF WRITER

The following article appeared in The Troy-Somerset Gazette (Michigan) in its February 22-28, 1999 edition.

There's no law against protesting the wearing of fur, but don't try to do it on private property, or you'll end up in jail. That's what happened to five women on Saturday afternoon, February 20, when they were part of more than a dozen militant anti fur protesters from ADAPTT, a Michigan-based organization, which blocked the mall entrance to Neiman Marcus at the Somerset Collection.

Police responded to the incident at 12:09 p.m. and located the protesters in the store's lobby, reported Police Public Information Officer Lt. Steve Zavislak. Some protesters carried a banner and others carried picket signs. They were chanting slogans and heckling patrons wearing furs.

Five women, two from Ohio and three local women, however, had locked themselves together with a number of tube-type bicycle locks. Officers talked to the president of ADAPTT, Gary Yourofsky, who agreed to take their protest to the public sidewalk.

The five women refused to leave. "They understood our officers would arrest them if they would not comply," Lt. Zavislak noted.

It took nearly two hours to free the women from their locks. Neiman Marcus summoned a locksmith and officers tried to use bolt cutters to break the locks, which were substantial. After these attempts failed, firefighters from Station #3 responded with other equipment to open the locks.

Officers arrested the five females and they were charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing, and hindering and obstructing a police officer in the discharge of his duty. These are misdemeanors, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine. The bond for these charges is $150.

This was not the only protest against furs at a Neiman Marcus store. According to ADAPTT, two activists had to be cut out of their locks by firemen in Washington, DC, the day before. The store was closed much of the day and the furs were removed from the sales floor.

According to a statement to the press by ADAPTT's president Gary Yourofsky: "If Neiman Marcus president Gerald Sampson won't climb out of his abyss of callousness, then the animal rights movement will force him out with lockdowns and other nonviolent acts of civil disobedience."

The group is particularly upset by what it says are the "depraved methods" by which the 40 million animals needed by the fur industry are killed each year. ADAPTT vows to continue its protest.

Anti-fur Protesters Step Up Their Fight

Somerset Collection is the First Target of Holiday Pickets

By Mike Martindale

The following excerpts appeared in The Detroit News on November 26, 1999.

Sign-carrying, anti-fur protesters say they will be a fixture outside Metro Detroit fur salons over the next few weeks. Gary Yourofsky of ADAPTT said the demonstrations are part of "Fur Free Season" and a nationwide effort to raise public awareness about animal rights.

"We will be here today, tomorrow and the next day," said Yourofsky, 29, of Royal Oak, at a kickoff informational picket last week at the Somerset Collection in Troy. "We're not going away, and if anything, we plan more protests and demonstrations until people understand that the skinning of animals and using that fur for coats is inhumane. We think people are getting the message. The thumbs up are outnumbering the middle finger gestures by about 3-to-1."

In past protests business owners have complained that the protesters are interfering with their right to conduct a legal business. Troy police said the demonstrators were orderly at their event last week and conducted a legal picket.

Yourofsky spent 77 days in a Canadian jail this year for freeing minks from a mink ranch.

He has been arrested twice since then. Last week, he showed up at a county park to protest deer hunting on the property.

On Wednesday, demonstrators carried signs such "Neiman Carcass: The Animal Skin Super Store," and "Wear Your Own Skin."

The nonprofit ADAPTT group wants to abolish animal use in medical research, product testing, circuses, rodeos and other forms of entertainment. The group opposes hunting and the wearing of animal skins, including leather, wool and down. They also seek to phase out the consumption of animals for food.

ADAPTT recently rented a 10-foot-by-36-foot billboard of a bleeding, skinned fox at the Lodge Freeway and Eight Mile Road that says: "Here's the rest of your fur coat. Have a nice day while she bleeds to death."

The group also has recently rented an anti-circus billboard to protest animal abuse by traveling shows.

Yourofsky defends the often graphic tactics. "Forty million animals have the fur ripped off their backs each year, are electrocuted and killed in a number of equally inhumane ways. It's disgusting and barbaric."

4 Anti-fur Activists Arrested

Animal Rights Demonstrators Sit In Group at Franklin Park Mall

By Mark Zaborney

The following article appeared in The Toledo Blade on November 27, 1999.

At the Franklin Park Mall entrance to Dillard's, next to displays featuring "Chicken Soup for the Soul—the Game" and Furbys, four people stood in a huddle yesterday as they arranged bicycle locks around each other's necks.

Once secured together, they shouted in unison, "One, two, three, sit down!" and turned to face outward as they sank to the floor.

"Who wears fur? Beautiful animals," they chanted. "Who else wears fur? Ugly people."

The four continued to tell passers-by of their cause for an hour, rejecting requests by Toledo police to unlock themselves and leave quietly. Police called the fire department and, after 15 minutes of trying, four firefighters cut the steel locks with a hydraulic tool about 5:30 p.m.

"For us to express our First Amendment rights, we have to break the law," said Mark Whitt, 41, of Toledo. He and three others were handcuffed and taken to the Safety Building where they were issued citations for disorderly conduct. Whitt, Amy Ptaszynski, 27, of Toledo; Tiffany Frost, 24, of Belleville, Michigan; and Gary Yourofsky, 29, of Royal Oak, Michigan are to appear Dec. 6 in Toledo Municipal Court, Sgt. Tim Hanus said.

"I will stand strongly against the nefarious murdering of innocent life," Frost said.

Dillard's Management would not comment last night. Scot Vallee, vice president and general manager of Franklin Park Mall, said protests are not allowed in the mall because it is private property. "Otherwise, we'd have every single group that wants to protest out here. It'd stop business," he said.

The Dillard's protesters were part of anti-fur protesters nationwide scheduled to coincide with the first big day of holiday shopping. In NYC more than 400 people gathered near Times Square to protest the use and sale of fur from animals, and 45 were arrested on trespassing related charges, a NYC police spokesman said.

At Franklin Park, the four locked-together protesters were joined by at least five others who held signs, passed out cards explaining why they oppose fur, and shouted, "Tell Dillard's to stop selling fur now!" to passers-by.

Police told the protesters who were not locked together to put down their signs and leave the area, and they complied. Several mall guards, 11 Toledo police officers, and reporters and television photographers kept the seated protesters from the sight of many shoppers. Those inclined to peek were hustled along by officers or guards.

One shopper, handed a card titled "Fur kills; no blood for vanity," tore it up and threw it at the locked-together four. "Here's what I think," he said. Others who caught a glimpse were sympathetic. "I don't think they should sacrifice an animal's life," said Connie Gray, 51, Devils Lake, Michigan "They've got faux fur down to a patent."

Joyce Rista of East Toledo didn't like the protest and has no opinion on fur. "If it was me, I'd just buy the fake fur and let it go at that." she said.

The protest was organized by ADAPTT, which Gary Yourofsky founded in 1996. He was jailed in Ontario for nearly three months this summer for his part in releasing 1,500 mink during a late-night raid on a fur farm in 1997.

Activists Protest Practices Linked to Burlington Stores

By Dave Groves

The following article appeared in The Oakland Press (Michigan) on May 14, 2000.

On a clear, sunny day when many people were running Mother's Day gift-getting errands, animal cruelty activists reminded area shoppers of less pleasant thoughts.

Members of ADAPTT held demonstrations Saturday at nine of 10 Burlington Coat Factory stores in Michigan, including outlets in Southfield and Auburn Hills.

Holding posters depicting the skinned skulls of coyotes, they hoped to alert shoppers to what they see as abominable practices of the fur industry.

Gary Yourofsky, ADAPTT founder, said Burlington stores were targeted because the company still has "egg on its face" after a Dateline NBC investigation revealed it was selling fur harvested from Mongolian dogs. He added that the company removed the products from its shelves following the story.

Hoping that Burlington is close to a decision to discontinue fur sales completely, Yourofsky said his organization is continuing to put pressure on corporate management. "How can they take a stand against using dog and cat fur and not against fox and coyote fur? It's so hypocritical," he said.

A district manager for the company would not comment.

Protester Lisa Breck of Ferndale said she hopes people who learn of cruel treatment animals undergo both in the wild and on fur farms will not only boycott fur retailers, but also voice their disgust to store managers or company executives. "I think we know that most people who find out about this are against fur, they just don't know that they can have an impact," she said. "This gives them an avenue."

Burlington Targeted by Animal Rights Activists

By Anne Heitjan

The following article appeared in The Sterling Heights Sentry (Michigan) on June 7, 2000.

An anti-fur group intent on getting Burlington Coat Factory to pull its stock of fur coats may be nearing its goal.

Members of ADAPTT staged a protest at the company's Sterling Heights location May 27. The group is targeting Burlington because the company has only a small stock of fur items and may be pressured into discontinuing it, according to ADAPTT president Gary Yourofsky.

"We know who we're targeting," Yourofsky said. "For them to hang on to that one rack seems pretty silly. They seem close to pulling it."

The company has in fact considered pulling real fur items, according to Ric Bramble, Burlington spokesperson. "We do have a small selection," Bramble said. "As to pulling that, that hasn't been determined, but it has been discussed."

Protesters also were angry when one of the store's employees allegedly lied to customers and protesters, claiming the store carried no real animal fur. Bramble declined to comment on the allegation, as did employees at the Sterling store.

"I was there to buy a shower gift," said Melissa Waz, who was part of the protest. Waz claims a store employee told her the store carried no real fur. "I went to check the labels and I was furious. They should have just told me the truth and let me make my own decision."

Bramble said protesters and the company simply suffer from a difference of opinion. "This is the US, and people are entitled to their opinions," he said. "We're a retailer. We give the public what they're looking for. There are people who like faux fur, and we sell that. There are people who like real fur, and we sell some real fur. It's supply and demand, more or less."

Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corporation operates more than 280 stores in 42 states. Yourofsky said ADAPTT is planning more protests across the state, the next scheduled for June 10 in Taylor. He said he believes the Sterling Heights protest, which involved nine ADAPTT members, was a success.

"Thousands of motorists and hundreds of shoppers and passers-by were informed about the death trade," he said. "Forty million animals are murdered worldwide each year in the fur trade."

Campaign Against Fur Coats Visits Store

By Jim Kasuba

The following article appeared in The News-Herald (Michigan) on June 14, 2000.

Fur coats are probably the last thing on a person's mind on a hot and humid June day. However, for Gary Yourofsky and his group of animal rights activists, there's no pause for the cause.

Yourofsky and six members of his organization, ADAPTT, were in front of the Burlington Coat Factory on Saturday afternoon in Taylor to protest the store selling a small number of fur-trimmed coats. ADAPTT has been targeting the chain of stores throughout the state this past month.

Yourofsky, a 29-year-old Royal Oak resident, said the 268-store chain has been targeted nationally since it admitted using dog fur to trim coats sold about a year ago. Yourofsky said the coats were pulled from stores after an NBC Dateline story embarrassed the chain. However, he maintains that the company still is selling a limited number of coats with fur trim that comes from the domestic dog's distant cousins—foxes and coyotes—and other animals, such as raccoons.

"It is hypocritical of Burlington to condemn only the dog and cat fur trade and not the entire fur trade," Yourofsky said. "The thought-provoking animal rights adage, 'Why do we call some animals pets and others dinner?' can be slightly altered to apply to the fur issue: 'Why do we call some animals pets and others fur coats?"

Ric Bramble, director of media relations for the New Jersey-based Burlington chain, said Yourofsky is wrong in his statement that BCF pulled fur coats after the Dateline story. "Those coats were pulled before the Dateline piece," Bramble said. "We unknowingly had less than 600 coats nationally that came from Mongolian dogs, which are wild dogs, not pets."

Yourofsky counters by saying there is no such thing as wild Mongolian dogs. "They were German Shepherds and they were skinned alive," Yourofsky said. "They may have come from Mongolia, but we don't call our dogs 'American dogs'."

Bramble said that as soon as his company was informed by the Humane Society about the origin of those coats, they were pulled off the racks. "It was an unfortunate situation, but we worked it out," Bramble said. "We were in touch with the customers who purchased the coats and told them the coats could be returned for a full refund." Bramble said the chain does have some stores that continue to sell real fur-trimmed coats, but that most of the fur coats sold at Burlington stores are faux fur.

"But some people still want real fur," Bramble said. "We're a retailer and it's the law of supply and demand. They demand it and we sell it."

That being the case, a lower demand for real fur has meant a sizable reduction in the numbers of fur coats most of the stores offer, he said. At the present, the chain sells only a limited number of fur trim coats. Bramble said Burlington advocates the labeling of all fur coats, not just those costing more than $150, as the current law dictates. The labels identify the type of fur being used.

Yourofsky said he personally had about 40 discussions with shoppers outside of the Taylor Burlington location, and all but one appeared supportive of his group's efforts. That one person was an outspoken bear hunter, he said.

Protesters Target Redford Fur Store

By Kurt Kuban

The following article appeared in The Redford Observer (Michigan) on June 22, 2000.

The Redford Burlington Coat Factory was the target of an animal rights protest Saturday afternoon. About a half-dozen members of ADAPTT picketed the store, located in the Redford Plaza at Telegraph and West Chicago, because the national retailer admitted it had sold coats made of dog and cat fur.

Around noon, the group began its protest just outside the doors of the store. Less than an hour later, store management asked the group to move off of Burlington property, and had to call police after the group refused. A Redford Township police officer was dispatched to the scene and the protesters peacefully moved to a sidewalk along Telegraph Road, where they continued picketing for several hours.

ADAPTT, founded in 1996 by Royal Oak resident Gary Yourofsky, has picketed 12 Burlington stores throughout the state in the last month. In recent years, ADAPTT has been involved with many protests and acts of civil disobedience, including a highly publicized incident in which members freed a large number of minks from a fur farm in Blenheim, Ontario. Yourofsky, 29, spent 77 days in an Ontario jail for that incident.

Yourofsky, who led the protest Saturday, said his group's opposition to the chain retailer stems from an investigation conducted by the Humane Society that determined Burlington had sold some coats lined with dog and cat fur. Embarrassed, the company pulled the coats from its shelves after Dateline NBC publicized the matter in a December 1998 show.

Yourofsky said Saturday's protest was meant to inform the public about the cruelty involved in the fur trade, and the "hypocrisy" of Burlington's continued use of coyote and fox fur in its coats. "The shoppers and passers-by had a good understanding of the hypocrisy of Burlington's policies," Yourofsky said. "Burlington officials say they don't use dogs or cats in their furs, but they still use fox and coyotes, which are in the canine family and close relatives of dogs. I'm just saying, don't be arbitrary. Either take it all out, or leave it all in. But it is just nonsense to make the claim they are making."

Redford Burlington manager Angela Almon said her store does not sell coats made from dogs or cats, and never has. She said the store has been the subject of one other protest since the airing of the Dateline story. She said she asked the picketers to move because they were affecting business. "If they are out there picketing, our customers are obviously going to be curious," she said.

Yourofsky said his group will quit targeting the Burlington chain when it quits selling fur coats. "My problem with the fur trade is that there are nothing but blood trails, misery, slavery and murder behind the glamorous propaganda put out by the industry's spin doctors," Yourofsky said. "If anyone would think clearly about the process that went into the making of their coat, I'm sure they would not give their approval. But the spin doctors make sure people never think about where the coats come from."

Activist Sets Sight on Clothier

By Christy Strawser

The following article appeared in The Daily Tribune (Michigan) on August 11, 2000.

Animal activist Gary Yourofsky is planning another large-scale strike against the practice of using animals for fashion. Yourofsky's group, ADAPTT, is gathering support for an effort against Burlington Coat Factory, a store that sells fur-trimmed apparel and was—unknowingly, company officials said—involved in using dogs and cats for some of its merchandise created in Asia several years ago.

The store has solved the problem, representatives said. But that's not enough for Yourofsky, who said the company should cease selling any kind of fur.

There's a nationwide effort to collect people who feel the way he does. Last Chance for Animals and the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade are gathering people to protest at Burlington Coat Factories across the country Saturday morning.

Yourofsky, 29, is bringing as many people as he can from the Royal Oak group he founded, ADAPTT, that boasts 1,850 members.

The closest targeted stores are in Southfield and St. Clair Shores.

Yourofsky said the demonstrations should be peaceful and educational, with ADAPTT members handing out literature and carrying posters bearing the images of skinned coyote faces. "It will be a huge demonstration in 30-50 cities across the country," Yourofsky said, adding that it will be the 13th time this year his group targeted a Burlington Coat Factory.

"We find what they're doing to be morally reprehensible," he said.

Anyone seeking more information about the demonstration should check out ADAPTT's website, email DogmaDay@aol.com or call the group's message center at 810-763-2715.

The thumbnail image of a mother seal mourning the death of her baby, who was murdered and skinned alive during one of the notorious annual Canadian seal hunts, is courtesy of All Creatures.

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