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California is first state to ban the sale of fur clothing, beginning in 2023

Tomasmore Lukanga

Oct. 12, 2019

SACRAMENTO — People in the market for mink coats or chinchilla vests will soon need to shop elsewhere, now that California will become the first state in the nation to ban new fur clothing.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB44 on Saturday outlawing the sale and manufacture of new fur clothing and accessories. The ban doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2023, giving retailers time to sell off their inventories.
“California is a leader when it comes to animal welfare and today that leadership includes banning the sale of fur,” Newsom said in a statement.
Supporters say the bill is necessary to end an inhumane fur trade that raises animals in filthy conditions and slaughters them solely for their coats, often using methods like electrocution.
“We’ve known from people who’ve gone undercover for years in the fur industry that it is impossible to be assured of humanely raised fur,” said Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, D-Glendale (Los Angeles County), who carried the bill.
Retailers can still sell secondhand fur clothing or decor under the new law. The ban also won’t apply to faux fur, which is generally made from plastics. It also doesn’t apply to leather, cow hides, stuffed animals and the full skin of deer, sheep and goats.
Opponents of the bill, including the Fur Information Council of America, call it government overreach and a step toward animal rights activists banning products like leather and meat.
“People need to wake up and recognize that there is this attack on personal freedoms, driven by one side, by personal morality,” said Keith Kaplan, a spokesman for the industry lobbying group.
Violators could face a civil fine of $500 or up to $1,000 for repeat violations within one year. Each fur item sold could be treated as a separate violation.
San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of fur last year, a move that drove at least one retailer to leave the state. Berkeley, Los Angeles and West Hollywood have enacted similar bans.
Newsom signed several other animal rights bills on Saturday, including SB 313 by Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, which prohibits the use of wild animals such as bears, tigers, elephants and monkeys in a circus. Under the law, only domesticated cats, dogs and horses will be allowed in performances in California.
“We are making a statement to the world that beautiful wild animals like bears and tigers have no place on trapeze wires or jumping through flames,” Newsom said. “Just YouTube the videos showing the cruel way these animals - often stripped from their mothers as babies - are trained to do dangerous tricks. It’s deeply disturbing.”
Dustin Gardiner is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: dustin.gardiner@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @dustingardiner
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