Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > New Zealand

Question: Who in their right mind would profit from animal cruelty, yet claim to be an animal rights activist, even attending animal rights demonstrations and events?

Her name is Bridget Saunders, and she is a 'fashion' designer based here in Auckland, New Zealand. She is also one of the countries largest possum fur designers and has a company called "Fur With Ethics".

She uses the claims that she is concerned about saving our native forests and our native animals, as justifications, for the use of possum fur in her designs.

Bridget Saunders has been quoted in articles when talking about her possum fur range, making such comments as, "I certainly like fur to be earthy and rough" and "I like to see details like bullet holes or the scars, It makes you realise that each pelt is an individual animal."

Bridget Saunders "I like to see details like bullet holes or the scars"

Methods used to kill/control possums in NZ are poison, shooting and trapping. Some of these methods, for example leg hold traps, also kill and injure native wildlife such as kiwis - creatures which Saunders says, she cares so much about. But for some reason, these factors do not seem to be of any real concern to her.

Leg hold traps are generally set on the forest floor where they can kill or maim kiwi. A disturbing number of kiwi bear the scars of a narrow escape - missing toes or feet, or damaged beaks. Cyanide poison, used in some possum bait, also kills kiwi as easily as it kills possums.

Trapping - incredibly cruel!

Saunders has a website, www.furwithethics.com  Here she proudly displays her ghastly 'designs', which includes coats, throws, hats and gloves.

In the last 12 months, Saunders has launched another venture, "Vintage Furs". Under this ridiculous name, she supplies 'second hand' fur coats such as fox and mink, under the guise that the items are 'old' , therefore, there are no issues when it comes to animal cruelty! This is absurd - the fact that the coat may be thirty or so years old, does not negate the pain and suffering which that particular animal was subjected to thirty or so years ago.

Bridget Saunders claims to be an animal rights activist, and is often referred to as such by the media. She regularly attends animal rights events. She uses her ‘activism’ claims to promote her sick businesses.

As she insists that she is so opposed to animal cruelty and has a vintage fur range because of this, we found it very odd that on her site www.furwithethics.com , she had a links page which includes a company called efurs.com. (she has now removed this link, but only after we drew attention to the fact that she had it on her site. If we hadn't it would still be on there)

Efurs.com is an American company which sells furs such as mink and fox, obtained from fur farms, also referred to as fur ranches.

We contacted Efurs to confirm where they source their fur and also, to find out if they sold vintage furs.

We received this response from them:

"Ranched furs are far superior to "wild" types. A ranched animal will be fed the finest most balanced nutritional diet thusly creating a top quality fur. Not only is their diet controlled but temperature and surroundings are all maintained to make sure the animal is kept healthy.

Construction techniques have not changed for many years. Computer controlled fur machines, better quality threads and linings plus the popularity of shearing furs have made the greatest changes.

No we do not sell vintage furs. You may want check with reputable resale shop in your area."

Bridget Saunders believes many of the women who buy her furs, don't care where the fur comes from anymore.

She was quoted in the Sunday Star Times, 11- 4 -04, as saying, "People are buying rabbit because it is cheap and accessible" and "I think if farmed fox was available here for the right price we'd buy that too."

Saunders has also made comments such as, "I think vintage fur is fine" and "What else are you going to do with it? Throw it away?".

It does not matter how long ago those animals were brutally killed for their fur! The fact is that those animals suffered on fur farms, or in traps, purely so their furs could be used by the 'fashion industry'.

No matter how old the fur coat maybe. Fact is animals still suffered!

In August 2004 we contacted an upmarket store in Auckland regarding our concerns about the unlabelled fur they were selling. A short time later Bridget Saunders phoned us as she was the shops supplier. She told us that some of the fur was 'recycled' and when we asked her was it farmed, trapped etc, she said she didn't know!

The reality behind the fur 'fashion' industry is anything but beautiful and glamorous.

In October 2002 she held her first possom fur fashion show, at the L’Oreal fashion week, where models, including children, paraded her bloody fashion items on the catwalk. AAA held a demo outside to educate the public about the cruelty of the possum fur industry. Our demonstration was well received by members of the public as well as international media.

Exploitation On The Catwalk

Bridget Saunders obviously has no issues at all when it comes to profiting from the suffering and death of animals, despite her attempts to prove that she is an animal lover and an ‘activist’.

The use of 'vintage' and possum fur promotes all fur!

By selling her bloody items, she is putting out the message that it is OK to kill animals for fashion and that is NOT what any REAL ACTIVIST would do!

Bridget Saunders is taking an active role in promoting the death of millions of animals for vanity. As she has said herself, many of her clients don't care where the fur is from!

Her claims that she is not promoting animal suffering and is a supporter of animal rights issues, wears very thin. It seems as if her so-called, compassionate stances, are non-existent, and that she has found a way of making lots of money and is using her 'green activist ’ claims as just another way of promoting it!

Up until 2002, Bridget Saunders was a member of Auckland Animal Action - until we discovered the way in which she made her living. We immediately ended her membership and contacted her explaining she was no longer welcome to be involved with us.

To let Bridget Saunders know your opinion of her use of fur in her 'fashion' designs contact her at bridgetsaunders@xtra.co.nz  or call her on (09)361 6148

You can also put your view on our forums

http://www.aucklandanimalaction.org.nz/forum/viewtopic.php?t=133