I hated my mom’s fur coat. A few months ago, it became mine.
Mom’s raccoon coat was, to her, a symbol of class and status. But for many more people, fur coats don’t represent either of these things. After my mom passed-away in April, I found that being left the coat created something of a moral dilemma – I didn’t want to wear it, and both my aversion to waste and sentimental attachment to something belonging to my mom prevented me from throwing it away outright. We’re urged to recycle whatever we can, but hate the fashion-driven consumerism of cruelly derived animal fur coats, so we don’t want to create further demand by putting the coat back into the marketplace either. Although the deadly deed has long been a fait accompli, we can still try to make amends to the animals who lost their lives to become vanity pieces. Until you inherit a fur coat that you don’t know what to do with, you don’t realize that it’s much more of a grave stone than a fashion statement.
Websites are replete with tips on how to recycle unwanted furs, including turning them into re-purposed teddy bears or donating them to wildlife rehabilitation centres. You would think that the answer to this conundrum is easily solved because it seems orphaned babies who have lost their mothers like to snuggle up to fur, according to some rescuers. The familiarity of fur likely plays a key role in the animals’ overall health and well-being, and may improve their chances of survival when they are eventually released back into the wild.
What was once brutally taken from them can now be used as a source of warmth and compassion. But despite the encouragement from most SPCAs and groups like the Humane Society, most rehabbers don’t actually want fur coats because they are difficult to clean. Even Born Free USA has updated its website to advise that it currently has “too much fur” to send to sanctuaries. In addition, the coordination of the donation was off, because by the time I took possession of the coat in June, most rehabbing animal babies have grown and are ready to leave on their own, and there is little demand for fur scraps for warm nesting materials in the summer.
Procyon Wildlife rehabbers in Beeton, Ontario, who have more than 200 animals to take care of, from skunks, turtles, chipmunks, raccoons, fawns, and coyotes, agreed to take the coat off my hands. Various people I exchanged conversations with promised they could cut it up in short-order and send me a few photos of the coat’s new beginnings as an enrichment item for rehabbing animals. A win-win for all!
Dear readers, I wish I could tell you what ultimately happened to this coat. Despite the good intentions of a few people, I wasn’t able to determine if it was ever used as intended. I was really looking forward to seeing a few pics of it being used somehow! But at this time, no one at Procyon seems to know where it is or what happened to it after I dropped it off. I could have asked my husband or a friend to cut it up in smaller pieces in advance if it was too time-consuming for volunteers to manage.
I firmly believe that once you give away something, you have little right to complain about what does or doesn’t happen to it. That said, philanthropic giving is about developing relationships. If you can’t use the donation, no matter what it is, then communicate with the donor and explain that you can’t use the gift at this time, due to a lack of personnel, time, or whatever. It’s always a good idea to use in-kind gifts in the way suggested, especially when they are intended not for people but animals, and that by not doing so could disappoint or alienate the donors of such gifts. They would not have donated to your organization if they didn’t have some interest what you do….