Facts & Sources

Welcome to our facts page, dedicated to providing accurate data in support of the pro-animal measures coming up on Denver’s November 2024 ballot. Our goal is to equip voters with reliable information as they consider the many reasons to vote YES to close slaughterhouses and YES to end fur sales. We also aim to empower advocates of a pro-animal future with compelling talking points they can share with their neighbors, family, and friends.

Highlights

The slaughterhouse in Denver has been noncompliant with the Clean Water Act for 3 years by failing to submit reports of its water discharge, meaning there is no available public record of what they are dumping.
Source: EPA.

Studies on slaughterhouse workers have shown 7x higher rates of repetitive strain injuries compared to workers in other private industries, with 76% of workers having abnormal nerve conditions in at least one hand.
Source: OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on NPR.

The vast majority of fur comes from animals raised in cages on fur farms. A 2008 encyclopedia entry stated 85%, while 95% is a current figure cited by journalists. The remaining animals are killed through trapping.

More than 100 countries have banned leghold traps, but they continue to be used in the USA where many animals attempt to chew off their own legs to escape.
Sources: The Library of Congress; HuffPost.

“The UN and leading researchers have analyzed the data at least seven times from 2006 to present, and all their reports find livestock to account for 11 to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.” -as quoted in The Gazette

An investigation of the company that runs Denver’s slaughterhouse found multiple Humane Slaughter Act violations. Ineffective stunning led to lambs experiencing electric shock more than once and kicking or thrashing their heads as their tails were cut off.
Source: Animal Outlook.

Fur was banned in Boulder in 2021, joining cities in Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and the State of of California. 30 other countries have passed laws that ban or restrict the farming and/or sale of fur, most recently Lithuania.

The climate crisis

“The UN and leading researchers have analyzed the data at least seven times from 2006 to present, and all their reports find livestock to account for 11 to 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions.” -as quoted in The Gazette

The United Nations promotes both renewable energy and a shift toward plant-based diets as steps affluent countries should take to address the climate emergency.

Eating plant-based causes 75% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than having 3.5+ ounces of meat a day. This is based on recent Oxford research into 55,500 people’s diets, using data from 38,000 farms in 119 countries.
Source: The New York Times, July 2023.

Eating animal-free also uses 75% less land, 54% less water, and causes 66% less biodiversity loss, according to the same Oxford study cited above.

A life cycle analysis found that mink fur production is worse for the environment than textiles on 17 out of 18 environmental measures, including climate change and toxic emissions. This was largely due to the feed grown to feed the mink, and mink manure.

Life cycle assessments have shown that Beyond and Impossible burgers both emit 89% fewer greenhouse gasses than the traditional meats that they replace.

Public health

Footage of the company that slaughters lambs in Denver found “best by” dates on fresh meat being changed by more than two weeks. This, and other food safety and animal welfare violations, led to a False Claims Act lawsuit against their California facility.

75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, transmitted from animals to humans. In response to this and various COVID outbreaks at meatpacking plants, a UN official endorsed a report that called animal farming the “single most risky human behaviour” for pandemics.”
Sources: United Nations and ProVeg International.

In 2020, 11 U.S. mink farms were infected with COVID, the CDC announced, explaining how COVID can spread from mink to humans. When Danish mink farms became infected as well, the government ordered the slaughter and mass burial of 17 million animals.

Statistically, plant-based populations have longer lifespans with less heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Source: Numerous studies cited by Healthline and the American Dietetic Association.

The American Dietetic Association calls well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets healthful and nutritionally adequate for all life stages, citing the data on how a balanced lifestyle with supplementation can provide plenty of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B12.

In a 2023 peer-reviewed study involving 1,369 cat guardians, it was found that cats fed vegan cat food were healthier than cats on meat-based cat food. Even larger studies found that dogs fed vegan dog food were healthier than those on meat-based dog food and that dogs and cats enjoy vegan pet food just as much as conventional pet food.

Public support for a pro-animal future

According to 2023 polling, 58% of Denver residents said they would vote yes to ban fur, 33% would vote no, and 9% were undecided.

The same polling suggested that 51% of Denver residents would vote yes to ban slaughterhouses, 37% would vote no, and 12% were undecided.

Over 90% of Denver residents agreed with the statement “Animals deserve to be treated humanely,” and 82.7% agreed that “animals under human care should not be subjected to violence or harm.”

71% of Americans were opposed to killing animals for fur in a 2020 survey by Research Co.

Political and cultural progress for animals

Fur was banned in Boulder in 2021, joining cities in Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and the State of of California. 30 other countries have passed laws that ban or restrict  the farming and/or sale of fur, most recently Lithuania.

62% of the U.S., or 79 million households, now buy plant-based meat, dairy, or eggs.
Source: 2021 SPINS data.

From 2021-23, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected multiple lawsuits by meat industry groups against California’s Prevention of Cruelty of Farm Animals Act. The Court upheld 62% of voters’ decision to ban three of the most severe forms of factory-farm confinement faced by calves, pigs, and hens.
Sources: The Humane League; Vox.

From 1960 to 2020, the percent of Americans who hunt animals fell from 7.7% to 4.6%. Meanwhile, the percent who care for an animal as their companion has gone up from a small minority of society in the 1800s to now 66% in 2023, with 85% of dog guardians considering the dogs to be members of their family.
Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Census Bureau data; Forbes.

Animal sentience

In a 2020 poll, 91.7% of Americans agreed with the statement “Farmed animals have roughly the same ability to feel pain and discomfort as humans.”

Sheep can remember 50 other different sheep faces for over 2 years,” as demonstrated in Nature. This Ingrid Newkirk-narrated video discusses other facts of sheep intelligence.

Mink purr when they’re happy. They swim up to 100 feet underwater, jump from tree to tree, and dig multiple burrows over miles of territory. They prefer to keep to themselves… but can’t do any of these things in a fur farm cage.
Source: AZ Animals.

Slaughterhouses’ effect on workers

Slaughterhouse workers are 4x more likely to suffer from depression. They have higher rates of anxiety, PTSD, substance addiction, low self-esteem, and aggression.
Source: The Psychological Impact of Slaughterhouse Employment: A Systematic Literature Review

In 2019, a worker at the slaughterhouse in Denver had his right index finger sliced off by a vertical band saw. Amputation accidents happen to two slaughterhouse workers each week in the United States.
Source: OSHA.

In 2022, kids as young as 13 were found cleaning saws and other power equipment at a slaughterhouse in Greeley and a dozen other slaughterhouses. Illegally employed, at least three suffered chemical burns.
Source: The Colorado Sun and Time Magazine.

“People of color, immigrants, and people in relatively low-income families are disproportionately employed in meatpacking plants. Almost one-half (44.4 percent) of meatpacking workers are Hispanic, and one-quarter (25.2 percent) are Black.”
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Studies on slaughterhouse workers have shown 7x higher rates of repetitive strain injuries compared to workers in other private industries, with 76% of workers having abnormal nerve conditions in at least one hand.
Source: OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health on NPR.

Animals killed in slaughterhouses

An investigation of the company that runs Denver’s slaughterhouse found multiple Humane Slaughter Act violations. Ineffective stunning led to lambs experiencing electric shock more than once and kicking or thrashing their heads as their tails were cut off.
Source: Animal Outlook.

Colorado is home to dozens of animal sanctuaries where sheep like Cheerio find a “forever home.” A study of one of the oldest farm sanctuaries found that bonding with rescued animals increases people’s support for evolving away from meat.

The slaughterhouse in Denver kills over 1,000 lambs a day.
Source: Meat + Poultry magazine.

Every year, 20 million American animals die inside trucks while being driven to slaughter, and are found dead upon arrival. The main cause of death is believed to be heat stroke.
Source: An analysis by The Guardian reviewed by a USDA statistician.

Based on USDA data, 99% of US farmed animals are raised in factory farms before going to slaughter.

Slaughterhouses’ effect on local water pollution

In 2018, slaughterhouses dumped over 55 million pounds of waste into U.S. waterways.
Source: Environment America Research & Policy Center.

The slaughterhouse in Denver is located within 80 feet of the South Platte River in Globeville, a 68% Hispanic neighborhood that is affected by extremely high levels of pollution.
Source: Google Maps; Denver government; Denver7 News.

The slaughterhouse in Denver has been noncompliant with the Clean Water Act for 3 years by failing to submit reports of its water discharge, meaning there is no available public record of what they are dumping.
Source: EPA.

Blood, fecal bacteria, and other waste slaughterhouses dump in water has led to “dead zones” across the country that suffocate fish and are a public health hazard.
Source: Environmental Integrity Project.

Slaughterhouses’ effect on neighborhoods

Slaughterhouses are correlated with health problems that include headaches, heart difficulties, and respiratory illness. “Residents are often unable to open windows or go outside due to dangerous toxins in the air.”
Source: Center for Biological Diversity.

Globeville and Elyria-Swansea residents suffer more asthma, heart disease, and other chronic health issues than other Denver neighborhoods. These areas surrounding the slaughterhouse are affected by additional factories, the I-70, low incomes, and food deserts.
Source: Denver Department of Public Health & Environment.

Animal operations, including factory farms and slaughter facilities, tend to lower the value of nearby residential properties.
Source: Data collected in The Appraisal Journal, plus dozens of examples of animal operations lowering property value.

Neighborhoods with slaughterhouses have higher arrest rates—including arrests for violent crimes, rape, and other sex offenses—compared to areas with other industries.
Source: Research by criminology professor Amy Fitzgerald and colleagues.

Factory farms are disproportionately in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color. This observation was supported by mapping studies of the factory farms in two different U.S. states.
Source: Mercy for Animals’ “How the Meat Industry Thrives on Environmental Racism

Ending the slaughterhouse industry in Denver

The only known slaughterhouse in Denver is run by a lamb slaughter company called Superior Farms. The facility is located in north Denver in Globeville next to the South Platte River.

The proposed slaughterhouse ban would require any existing slaughterhouses to close by January 1, 2026, providing over a year to transition after the 2024 election. Read the full text of the legislation here.

The ban would prohibit the construction of new slaughter facilities.

The initiative calls on the City of Denver to prioritize affected workers in City-operated work trainings or employment assistance, including those provisioned by the Climate Protection Fund.

Animals killed for fur

A single fur coat sold in Denver can cost as much as $7,995 or more.

Every year an estimated 100 million animals are killed for their fur. This includes millions of Dogs and Cats. Animals sold for their fur in Denver include Mink, Rabbits, Foxes, and Bobcats.
Source: PETA.

To make one fur coat, it reportedly takes 10-12 dogs, up to 24 cats, 15-40 foxes, 50-60 minks, 200-250 squirrels, and 150-300 chinchillas, but depends on the animals’ breed or subspecies.
Source: Animal Ethics and the Humane Society.

Animals farmed for fur

The vast majority of fur comes from animals raised in cages on fur farms. A 2008 encyclopedia entry stated 85%, while 95% is a current figure cited by journalists.

A fox has a natural territory of 2 to 20 square miles. A fox on a fur farm lives in a 0.8 square meter cage for their entire life.
Sources: The Nature Conservancy and Fur-Free Alliance.

An investigation of a “WelFur”-certified fur farm found animals living with dead cagemates rotting on the sides of cage walls, and evidence that animals had harmed themselves and each other from the stress of their confinement.

Common methods of killing animals on fur farms include gas and anal electrocution.
Source: The Humane Society.

Animals trapped for fur

Cause of death for animals trapped for fur can vary widely—from blood loss, dehydration, or freezing while struggling to escape the trap, to being beaten with a bat, choked, or stomped when the trapper returns.
Source: The Fur-Free Alliance.

Born Free USA keeps a database of incidents where dogs and other non-target animals were trapped by mistake. There have been at least 173 unfortunate incidents reported over the last 10 years.

More than 100 countries have banned leghold traps, but they continue to be used in the USA where many animals attempt to chew off their own legs to escape.
Sources: The Library of Congress; HuffPost.

Ending the fur industry in Denver

At least 4 stores in Denver sell a significant amount of fur products: Overland Sheepskin, A Tsagas Furs and Leathers, Jonval Leathers and Furs, and Dan Sharp Luxury Outerwear.

If the fur ban legislation passes in November 2024, stores that sell fur would have until July 1st, 2025 to phase out their sale of fur. Read the full text here.

The proposed fur ban legislation exempts fur that is purchased for traditional tribal, cultural, or spiritual purposes by a member of a federally recognized or state recognized Native American tribe.

The legislation targets new fur specifically and exempts used fur, allowing fur to be sold secondhand or recycled into new products.

The legislation would ban the sale of fur from species killed primarily for their fur and specifies that it would not ban leather, wool, cowhide, sheepskin, or taxidermy.

Further Reading

The Environmental Impact of Slaughterhouses: Facts Sheet by The Center for Biological Diversity.

Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight, a book by Timothy Pachirat. Summary: “A political scientist goes undercover in a modern industrial slaughterhouse for this twenty-first-century update of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.” Published 2013 by Yale University Press.

The Case Against Fur Factory Farming: A Scientific Review of Animal Welfare Standards and ‘WelFur’ by Heather Pickett and Stephen Harris.

Environmental Impacts of Food Production, presented by Hannah Ritchie, Pablo Rosado and Max Roser of Our World in Data.