The fur industry is notorious for its cruel practices. The animals spend their lives in filthy, cramped wire cages and are killed by means such as electrocution, neck breaking, and poisoning so as not to damage their pelts.

Just as some people believe that ‘wild caught’ and ‘free range’ are somehow humane when it comes to animals used for food, some mistakenly think fur from animals trapped in the wild is a compasssionate choice; but these animals experience horrific deaths as well. The steel traps used for capture can break their legs and necks, and the animals are often left in the traps, alive and suffering, for days at a time. Water set traps, used for animals like beavers and muskrats, hold the struggling animals underwater until they eventually drown ten minutes later.

As if it couldn’t get any worse, fur farmers are now breeding “monster foxes” in order to maximize profits by harvesting more fur per animal. According to Oikeutta Eläimille (Animal Justice), a Finnish animal welfare group who has recently released an undercover investigation of these farms, these overweight blue foxes weigh five times what they would in the wild. A female blue foxs’ average weight is naturally around 6 pounds, but one of the foxes from the fur farm weighed an estimated 40 pounds.

Because they are so overweight, these foxes suffer many difficulties, including inhibited movement.

“The first problem is the feet,” said Kristo Muurimaa, communications officer for Oikeutta eläimille. “Their feet can’t seem to bear the weight. In nature, an Arctic fox weighs 3 or 4 kilos [6 to 8 pounds], and these animals weigh over 20 kilos [44 pounds] … and this causes deformities in their legs and causes difficulties in moving,”

They can barely even see, as rolls of fur on their faces fold over their eyes, and their breating is labored.

“They have all the same health problems that obese people have,” said Muurimaa.

According to Claire Bass, executive director of Human Society International, the industry has “hit a shocking new low.” She continued, “It is proof, if further proof were needed, that the fur industry is about profit and cares nothing for animal welfare. Consumers will be rightly shocked and disturbed by these hideous images, which underline yet again the need to turn our backs on fur for good.”

The fur is sold under the brand Saga Furs and ends up at large corporations including Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton and Gucci for people all over the world to purchase as clothing and accessories.

Unlike these foxes and the billions of other animals skinned for their coats every year, humans do not need fur. The bottom line: fashion is not worth this. It is not worth foxes being forced into morbid obesity to later be electrocuted, skinned, and put on a hanger in a clothing store. It is not worth the billions of rabbits, dogs, cats, chinchillas, and minks murdered each year in the name of style.

We must put an end to the fur industry. Some countries around the world, such as Germany and Japan, have shut down all of their fur farms, an ethical move that brings us one step closer to ending the cruel and greedy practice.

Luckily, giving up fur doesn’t mean you have to give up your love of fashion. There are many cruelty-free alternatives out there to keep you warm and stylish, including faux fur brands such as SpiritHoods and Imposter4Animals. Do your part to make the world a better, more compassionate place by joining the movement to stop fur farming.