A group of about 12 animal rights activists stood on the sidewalk on Genesee Street outside of Skaneateles Furs last Saturday, Dec. 7, to encourage holiday shoppers to buy “cruelty free” gifts.
The demonstration included members of two local groups: People for Animal Rights and Syracuse Animal Rights Organization. They have been coming to Skaneateles during the holiday season for several years and also protest other Syracuse-area businesses and restaurants, organizer Linda DeStefano said.
Despite setting up shop in front of a retailer that sells fur, the protesters said that they weren’t there to scare away customers, but to spread a positive message and provide information to shoppers.
“Most of the fur that people are buying off the shelves this year are coming from places like China where the animals don’t have any benefit of the animal welfare laws that we have here,” demonstrator Amber Canavan said. “A lot of people just see the pretty finished product on the shelf and we’re trying to let people know about the really bad history that these products have.”
The protesters held up signs with slogans such as “Fur is Dead,” “60 Dead Animals, 1 Fur Coat,” and “Cruelty is Never in Fashion” and also handed out leaflets from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals with information about animal cruelty and alternative options to leather and fur clothing.
“There’s so many good things you can give that don’t involve suffering of animals,” DeStefano said.
While they may not see immediate effects of their efforts, spreading information is an ongoing process and everything they can do to help matters, Destefano said.
“We want to inform them and then it’s up to their own conscience,” she said.
The owner of Skaneateles Furs declined to comment on the protest, though one shopper said that the signs and protestors didn’t deter him from coming inside.
“It’s a free country. They can protest if they want and people can buy furs if they want,” Joe Beasley, of Nichols, N.Y. said.
Beasley said that he would prefer to give his time and attention to other causes that have greater impacts on the lives of humans.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.