Pet Tales: Donated furs benefit orphaned wildlife

So you’ve inherited your mother’‍s mink stole, your grandmother’s raccoon coat or the fox fur collar worn decades ago by an elderly aunt. If you’‍re an animal lover who wouldn’‍t be caught dead wearing the pelt of a dead animal, what are you going to do?

Would it warm your heart to see orphaned and injured mammals snuggling in furry nests at wildlife rehabilitation centers?  

Two baby squirrels sleep in a bed of lush beige fur on the Facebook page of the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center. It was made from some of the 70 pounds of fur donated to Born Free USA, a national organization whose mission of “compassionate conservation” includes an anti-trapping and anti-fur component.

Born Free launched a Fur for the Animals donation drive, and in three months the public came through with more than 100 items, including coats, hats and bits of fur used as trim on apparel and accessories. The fur came from mink, seal, fox, bear, chinchilla, raccoon, rabbit, skunk and wolf. 

Born Free wanted to help living animals “while offering the public a symbolic way to declare that fur should only be worn by animals,” said CEO Adam Roberts. They sent the donated fur to wildlife rehab centers in Kendalia, Texas; San Jose, Calif.; Ballwin, Mo.; and the ARL wildlife rehab center in Verona, which has already taken in 2,000 birds and mammals this year. (The shelter in Larimer is for dogs, cats and rabbits.)

Born Free has photographs of the baby squirrels and other animals (including the cutest baby bobcat you’ve ever seen) at

Orphaned and injured wildlife don’t actually need fur to survive and thrive, “but they do look cozy and snuggly in the fur,” said Dan Rossi, executive director at Animal Rescue League. Large furs, including coats, were cut into baby-sized pieces. He calls the Born Free fur donations “a really nice situation.”

The local center usually beds wild animals in old towels, fluffy fleeces, blankets, heating pads, paper towels and newspapers. Those are items that ARL uses all the time, and donations are always needed. Go to to see the full wish list.

ARL is not accepting fur donations at this time, because it has enough fur to get it through this season. The fur from Born Free will not be re-used for reasons of hygiene and sanitation, because very young mammals urinate and defecate where they sleep.

I don’t have any fur to donate, and my personal choice is to not wear fur. In the interest of full disclosure, I wear leather shoes and own one leather jacket, but because cattle are raised for food I figure we might as well not waste their hides. I do eat beef but not every day, and I don’‍t eat chicken.

At least I’ve evolved from my younger days. I SO regret the Daniel Boone hat I gleefully wore as a child. It was fashioned from a real raccoon, with an intact striped tail that hung down on my neck and shoulders. I’‍m also sorry about another prized possession -- the pretty white muff that I’m pretty sure was real rabbit fur. For my senior prom, someone loaned me a white rabbit fur stole, which was all the fashion rage in 1968. I wish I could say I didn’‍t wear it because I took a stand for the animals. Truth is, I thought it was just way too hot and humid to wear fur in June, although many other girls showed up with dead white rabbits draped across their shoulders.

The animal lovers at Born Free USA and other organizations won’t be happy until no one is wearing fur. I think the Fur for the Animals project is more tasteful than the anti-fur program at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA collects donated fur, sprays it with red paint and gives it to homeless people, which strikes me as rather demeaning, somehow, to the people who are beneficiaries of this largesse.

The publicity surrounding this campaign has unearthed more people who would like to donate fur to help other animals. Born Free USA has agreed to extend this campaign, and you can mail fur to 2300 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007.

Beer tasting festival

Help the homeless animals at the Beaver County Humane Society by attending the Barks and Brew fundraiser from 3 to 6 p.m. Aug. 3 at Brady’‍s Run Park, 526 Brady’s Run Road (15010).

Sample more than 30 beers and enjoy live music by Dreams Come True Karoaoke. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome. Admission is $45 at the door or go to to register online in advance for $40.

Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Contact Linda Wilson on her Facebook page, or 412-263-3064.