From anti-fur to fur farmer
19 September 2013Fur farming
In her younger days, Catherine Moores took every opportunity to preach about anti-animal use. Today, she is a mink farmer with 12,000 breeding animals in Newfoundland, and this year for the first time, she shipped some of her skins to Kopenhagen Fur for the first time.
For as long as Catherine Moores can remember, she wanted to become a vet. Her love of animals made her read a book written by PETA on how to save animals. It gave examples of things you can do to help save them, such as writing small notes with 'Fur is Dead' on them and slipping them into the pockets of fur coats in fur stores. After reading this book, Catherine became a vegetarian, stopped wearing animal products and stopped using any products that were tested on animals.
- I was always very focused on animal rights, even though I lived in a place where anti-animal use was a foreign concept. Everybody fished and hunted for food, hunted seals for food and clothing and so on. But I became very committed to this cause; I became extremely vocal, I spoke publically about my beliefs and I donated money to animal rights groups. At one point, I actually received a letter from PETA asking me if I would be willing to participate in illegal activities for the cause, says Catherine Moores.
In spite of her passion, she never went to that extreme or did anything illegal. In 1996, Catherine Moores studied an animal science,, hoping to become a veterinarian. This programme included many agricultural courses, which meant working closely with farmers at times.
- I began to realize that farmers are not cruel people - rather the opposite. I began to see that they have a relationship with the animals, an unspoken respect for them, and actually enjoy working with them. At that point, I started questioning my views, Catherine Moores explains.
Anti-animal use became responsible animal use
At the age of 20, Catherine Moores needed a summer job to support her studies. She was offered a job in her hometown working with a small sealskin company.
- It was against everything I had believed in and had preached about. But after much mental turmoil and consideration, I accepted the job. I ended up falling in love with the seal industry, says Catherine Moores.
What changed her mind was seeing with her own eyes what the industry actually was like - and not what she had heard about it.
- I realized that the perception is much different from reality. I changed my views on anti-animal use into responsible animal use with a focus on animal welfare, she says.
Catherine Moores returned to the small sealskin business the following two summers and after graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Animal Science, she continued working in the seal industry. During that time, she was exposed to different animal rights groups on various occasions. These encounters were both disturbing and enlightening.
- I began to realize that the animal rights movement is about money and power. To many of these groups it is a business and a game, and it has very little to do with animal welfare. These groups take advantage of uninformed people - often the young and the elderly - who really think that by donating money they are helping to save the world. They are very successful in spreading their damaging messages, says Catherine Moores, who is still extremely passionate about the seal industry.
Into the mink business
In 2003 Catherine Moores faced a new opportunity and challenge when she was asked to start a mink farm for the company that she worked for. Together with Daphne Boudreau, who has a Master's degree in Animal Nutrition with a focus on mink, they started a farm in Cox's Cove, Newfoundland, with 450 mated females.
- A lot of people were helpful but also sceptical, as we were two young girls who knew nothing about the business. But in three years the farm increased to 10,000 breeding animals, and this year we have bred over 12,000, says Catherine Moores.
Animal welfare is still a big issue for Catherine Moores, who is also the President of the Newfoundland & Labrador Fur Breeders Association, and Director of the Canada Mink Breeders Association (CMBA). She became involved in updating the mink industry's National Code of Practice, which has recently been completed. According to Catherine Moores, the updated animal welfare code and recent biosecurity guidelines will help provide a bright future for the Canadian mink farmers.
Catherine Moores would like to see more openness and transparency to the public, demonstrating that the industry operates with standards and that its members are proud of what they do, and do it well. She would also like to see more education of children about the mink industry within the school system, which is something that she is currently working on through the CMBA.
- It is a positive step, and I love being one of the people who help mould the future of the industry. It is a very interesting business and, like the seal industry, it has become a passion for me.