Charity gives fur coats to homeless

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The Independent Online
MINK, sable and ermine, once the preserve of the well-to-do, are now being worn by hundreds of homeless people. A charity, shocked by the burning of furs by animal rights activists, is distributing coats, wraps and muffs to people sleeping rough in London.

The organisation, SOS Sleeping on the Streets, which hands out food and clothing to the homeless in winter, has collected hundreds of fur coats, ranging from mink to rabbit from people who stopped wearing fur when it became politically incorrect in the late 1980s.

The campaign began last year when Bunny Dexter, an American board game inventor, started collecting furs from friends. This winter she is distributing 400 coats, most of which have been handed in anonymously.

SOS volunteers deliberatelydamage the furs to reduce their value and discourage resale. The charity is also concerned that the homeless could be mugged and encourages recipients to wear coats inside out. The arms are usually removed for use as leg warmers and muffs.

Respect for Animals, an organisation opposed to trapping and the wearing of fur, condemned the charity's action."It encourages distribution of fur, which we oppose,'' said a spokeswoman. "Fur is a fashion item which is useless when it gets wet."