Two years after the West Hollywood, Calif., city council voted unanimously to ban the sale of all fur products, the ordinance has finally gone into effect.
The battle over the ordinance, which makes it a misdemeanor to sell any fur apparel, pitted those who see the city as a capitol of fashion against those who wanted to enhance its image as an animal-cruelty-free zone.
The ban applies to anything made to be worn, including shoes, hats and gloves. It does not apply to fur products such as furniture and blankets, or to leather. Any merchant found violating the ban three times in a year could face a misdemeanor charge.
West Hollywood, which is in Los Angeles County, is known for groundbreaking legislation. In 2003, it became the first U.S. city to ban declawing cats. West Hollywood has also banned the sale of dogs and cats within city limits, as well as the testing of cosmetics on animals.
When the ordinance was passed on a 5-0 vote early Sept. 20, 2011, following heated debate that had begun the evening before and dragged on past midnight, city spokeswoman Tamara White said it was business as usual. West Hollywood City Council meetings often take on hot-topic issues that run late into the night, she said.
“We’ve consistently worked to enact cutting-edge animal welfare legislation,” she said. “This is in line with our values.”
Worldwide, about 50 million animals are raised on fur farms and killed for their pelts each year, according to the animal rights group Last Chance for Animals. Mink production alone in the U.S. totaled 2.82 million pelts in 2010, with Wisconsin and Utah leading production numbers, according to the most recent study by the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.