Should a Vet Ever Be Caught Wearing Fur?

Gaston Mink
Dr. Patty Khuly
Gaston models Dr.  Khuly's grandmother's black fox boa.

When my grandmother passed away, she left a stash of fabulous furs behind. Her lifestyle had been as glamorous, decadent and lavish as her designer furs — the luxe trappings of a bygone era, as well as a legacy of animal cruelty. So when it came time to divvy things up, a trio of pieces uncomfortably came my way. There I was, holding what amounted to the untimely death of at least one beaver, two black foxes and a lynx — and wondering what the heck I’d do with all that lush fur.

Not that I couldn’t make use of them. I live in Miami, where a fox boa could easily become a wardrobe staple for nights out on South Beach. And fur is definitely a thing done during Miami winters.

But could I do it?

While I’d never, ever go out of my way to buy any fur, this was different. These are sentimental pieces that remind me of a glam grandma’s kooky taste and fashion-forward sensibility –– traits I won’t deny that I’ve inherited. It's why I have to confess that I really, really want to wear her fur.

Yet, for obvious reasons, I’ve decided that it’s a serious no-no to do so. It’s one thing to eat animals raised specifically for their protein, especially when you’re careful to do it right. I do a decent job of eating relatively small amounts of humanely raised meats, plus I raise my own hens for eggs, and milk my own goats.

The fox could theoretically have been farm-raised under humane conditions (although I seriously doubt it, given what I know of pelt farms and the fact that we’re talking about fur from the 1960s); the lynx and the beaver were undeniably trapped, more than likely with horrible steel foothold traps.

Although some argue that beaver fur is more defensibly worn because it’s often harvested as part of a wildlife management or pest control program, I can't make a similar argument for the lynx’s defensibility.

Some of my friends, who wear vintage fur, have countered that as long as you don’t support an existing trade in wild animal pelts or the farming of animals for their fur, there's no harm in wearing vintage products that would otherwise languish in closets.

I myself would love to trot out my furs now that winter’s upon us, but there’s no way that I can morally defend donning clothing that I’d like to see forever banned.

I’ll just have to remember my glamorous grandmother in ways that don’t evoke the violent death of at least four innocent animals, which is probably as it should be.

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