Virtually barren steel cages, isolation, lack of veterinary care, and painful medical procedures, including limb amputations performed without anesthesia, were the reality for hundreds of chinchillas at Valley View Chinchilla Ranch. More than 400 chinchillas – who were slated for slaughter so that their fur could be turned into hats, scarves, coats, and blankets – have been rescued and will soon be put up for adoption at the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA.
In 2014, a PETA investigator visited Valley View Chinchilla Ranch, a California-based breeding and fur farm. The facility masqueraded as a breeder of “pets,” despite slaughtering, skinning, and selling the pelts of any chinchillas who supposedly did not “work out” as companions, even going as far as to hide its involvement in the fur industry from the public.
Chinchillas are social animals who naturally live in herds of up to 100 animals and who enjoy burrowing, climbing, and playing. At Valley View, they were locked in tiny steel cages—often in solitary confinement—with little enrichment, space, or accommodation for their natural behaviors.
Viewed as commodities, the chinchillas were denied veterinary care, even for emergencies. The owner admitted to amputating limbs with “wire snips,” splinting broken bones, and using “six drops of brandy” as an anesthetic. She also admitted that it didn’t matter to her if chinchillas died, stating, “I usually have so many animals that if I lose one, it’s not a catastrophe.”
As if these conditions weren’t horrifying enough, the owner planned to slaughter and skin all the remaining chinchillas for their fur if the business didn’t sell. As on many fur farms, a crude, archaic slaughtering method known as “toe-to-ear” electrocution was being used. Toe-to-ear electrocution immobilizes animals but leaves them fully conscious as they experience all the pain of a full-blown heart attack.
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