Skinned Alive: Interview with the Director of “Skin Trade” Shannon Keith   
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The images in the following program are very sensitive and may be as disturbing to viewers as they were to us. However, we have to show the truth about cruelty to animals.

What would you do if you knew that the soft fur wrapped around your neck had been ripped from living, breathing dogs and cats? Did you know that the material used to make your tennis shoes might be the skin of a sweet animal such as a Kangaroo?

On today’s Stop Animal Cruelty program, we interview Shannon Keith of Los Angeles, USA, a vegan animal rights advocate, attorney, and award winning film director. In 2004, she founded the non-profit organization Animal Rescue Media Education which rescues and re-homes wonderful animal companions like dogs and cats.

The organization also produces important documentaries such the newly premiered “Skin Trade” which reveals the horrendous truth about the leather and fur industries. The film features prominent people in the United States who support kindness to animals such as television actress Jorja Fox, author Rory Freedman, rock star Rikki Rockett, Hollywood actor James Cromwell, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, fashion designer Ashley Paige, and designer Todd Oldham.

Fur is one of those things that there is just no argument for. Fur for vanity, that’s ridiculous. It should be gone and over with it by now and I think that most people agree. People just don’t know how to stop it. So I made “Skin Trade” so that people can see what goes on, how animals are killed for fur and how they can make a change and stop the brutal fur and fashion industries.

It’s really sad. There are different ways that animals are used for fur and trapped and killed. The most prevalent way is animals are bred and raised on factory farms, so they are in tiny, confined spaces where they can hardly move. We are talking animals that are used to (roaming) miles and miles of territory in the wild, foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynxes, mink, beautiful, gorgeous, fur-bearing animals that love their terrain and love their freedom.

They are being raised on these tiny factory farms, a lot of times indoors. They are not given food. They are not given water for a couple of weeks.

The animals, who are either intensively raised or caught in the wild, are kept in sordid, filthy, overcrowded conditions that are absolutely sickening. The diseased and injured receive no medical attention or care whatsoever. Their pain and agony is totally ignored. This unrelenting, ceaseless torment causes some of the tender-hearted beings to become insane and mutilate themselves.

Each day countless more animals are forced into this heartless system, a black hole of despair induced by human greed. The UK-based Fur Free Alliance estimates that globally 50 million animals lose their lives each year to the fur industry.

The fur farmers want to save money. So they will get away with anything that they can to cut corners, whether it’s cruel or not.

And what I learned in interviewing fur farmers and doing some undercover work and using undercover footage is that they don’t care about the welfare of these animals. They will do anything to save a dime, and if that means watering them every two weeks, that’s what they’re going to do, as long as they live. So animals live horrific lives, horrific, and not only that but animals are also trapped in the wild with steel-jawed, leg-hold traps.

And sometimes left in the traps for days, they end up gnawing off their own limbs just to get away, and then, of course, they eventually die. The traps, they can break bones. Many domesticated animals are trapped in those traps too.

I was surprised to learn how many people really don’t know about how animals are killed for fur. And that’s why I think “Skin Trade” is so important too, just to inform people about how these animals are killed. Animals are skinned alive; they are electrocuted, a lot of times anally or vaginally. They are beaten, they are drowned, and they are gassed.

And they do that because it preserves the fur. (Right.) The skinning alive process is being used more and more frequently with dogs and cats.

There is a scen, in “Skin Trade” that is so devastating. I had to put it in there, because I had to be a voice for this one poor dog who was skinned alive. You see him being hung upside down, skinned alive, thrown onto a pile of other dead animals, bleeding. He still has his eyelashes and he is blinking, and looking into this person who is taking the undercover footage. And it took him a very long time to die, and you feel his pain and agony and he’s already totally skinned and he’s still alive.

Throughout Asia, dogs and cats are deliberately raised for their fur, skin and meat, and many are caught off the streets or stolen from loving families, who rarely find their beloved canine or feline friends once they’ve gone missing.

they are brutally tortured, they’re skinned alive sometimes, they’re clubbed, they’re just cut open while still squirming and screaming for their lives in front of each other. And then that fur is then shipped to the United States through a loophole in the law that we have, and used for fur here.

Ninety percent of the fake fur in the United States is actually dog and cat fur. In the Unites States if a garment is under US$150, then the material doesn’t have to be labeled. So that faux fur, or what you think is faux fur, really contains dogs, cats and coyotes.

After this brief message, we’ll continue our talk with Shannon Keith, director of the film “Skin Trade.” Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

This is the Stop Animal Cruelty series on Supreme Master Television, where we’re speaking with award winning director, animal rights advocate, lawyer and long-time vegan Shannon Keith. Shannon recently directed and produced the documentary “Skin Trade,” which exposes the unconscionable practices of the fur and leather industries.

“Skin Trade” presents the concerned voices of celebrities, historians, indigenous peoples, activists, designers, fashion icons and many others who ask, “Why are animals still being killed for fashion?” To produce a single fur coat, hundreds of innocent animals are mercilessly and brutally murdered.

Depends on the type of animal, but we are averaging 100, 200 animals per fur coat. And if we’re talking about chinchillas, we are talking about hundreds. Something I learned too, let’s say it’s a coyote coat, well with coyotes and other animals, depending on the kind of garment they are making, they only use the under belly, the soft part.

So basically they are using triple the amount of animals to make a coat, because they only want to use the softest part of the fur.

Perhaps one of the public’s biggest misconceptions is that leather is merely a by-product of the meat industry, and so wearing leather does not contribute directly to the suffering of animals. Ms. Keith explains why this is far from the truth.

Conditions for animals on farms where they’re killed for their leather are exactly the same as for animals on factory farms used for their meat or for dairy. They’re horrific, they’re taken out of their natural environment. They’re taken away from their family. They’re treated horribly.

They’re fed their own species to eat because they’re cheap. And they die very painful deaths. Again we are talking about skinning animals alive usually, because it’s a lot cheaper, number one, and number two, the skin comes off a lot easier.

The barbaric fur and leather trade is a disgrace to humanity and also poses serious environmental threats to our precious planet and its inhabitants.

“Skin Trade” focuses on the fur industry but also talks about the environmental impact of fur farms, and what people don’t realize is that when they purchase a fur coat, the fur is attached to skin. That skin is also known as leather. And in order to preserve the skin it has to be tanned and chemically treated, and those chemicals get dumped into our waterways, get dumped into the soil, and they end up killing human beings and wildlife.

They’re chemicals that you’re not even supposed to be around without wearing full body covering and a mask. So imagine ingesting these chemicals. Animals die instantly, and humans, it’s a slower process because we may not be drinking tons of water a day,

Those employees who work inside of fur farms killing animals and those who work in tanneries, they’re exposed to very dangerous conditions.

We found this one fur farm, there was a dead bird just lying there; there’s dogs chained up everywhere, barking. I see all the mink and I hear them. And the smell, I mean the stench was … I can’t even describe it. It was overwhelming. I went over to the cages and I swear those mink were looking at me, and just begging me to save them because they were looking right into my eyes with their little paws up (yes) on the cages.

And then we were spotted and a man came out of one of the buildings, and his hands were dripping with blood, just dripping with blood. Someone else came out dragging a dead animal, a dead mink with bloody hands, no gloves, nothing. And obviously they have no regard for any animals. Look at the way the dogs are treated, and the dead animals on the property. And they are unsanitary. Everything about that place, the sounds, the smells, and the people was horrifying and that will stick with me forever.

Cruelty is not fashionable. To help end the senseless torment and slaughter of innocent animals for the sake of replaceable pieces of clothing and footwear, you need to make only one simple decision.

Don’t buy leather, period. Just don’t buy it, just buy synthetics.

There are so many great leather alternatives and they’re comfortable and fashionable and stylish, which is why I want to focus on fashion in “Skin Trade” because, wow, there is such great fashion out there.

Designers like Todd Oldham, who’s never used any animal products, his products have always been vegan.

There is one woman named Julia Gerard, she has a peace gallery for her couture here in West Hollywood (USA). She designs for huge celebrities. And she’s vehemently anti-fur, but she went and saw the movie anyway, and it inspired her to start this whole peace fur campaign. And what she’s doing is encouraging all of her designer friends to take this pledge, to spread the message that wearing fur is wrong.

When buying clothes, shoes, and accessories, please always say “No” to items made with animal products, period. Complete your compassionate lifestyle with a healthy, organic vegan diet that saves lives and the planet.

Our deep appreciation goes to Shannon Keith for making it her life’s work to encourage people to treat animals as our brothers and sisters. She is to be applauded for her endeavors ranging from her courageous legal work that has safeguarded animal rights to her filmmaking.

For more details on “Skin Trade”, please visit
For more information on Animal Rescue Media Education, please visit:

Thank you for joining us today for the Stop Animal Cruelty series. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May all of Earth’s animals be respected and loved.

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