For Immediate Release:
January 12, 2023
Robin Goist 202-483-7382
Corte Madera, Calif. – On the heels of PETA entities’ damning new exposés of three of the world’s largest down exporters—Poland, Vietnam, and Russia—today PETA submitted a shareholder resolution to RH (formerly known as Restoration Hardware), urging the board of directors to commission a report on whether the farms and slaughterhouses in its down supply chain, many of which are in Europe, comply with applicable animal welfare laws.
The resolution points to many examples of the abuse uncovered by the past year’s investigations, such as a worker who beheaded shrieking geese with an axe, injured ducks left to languish in crowded lots, and improper stunning that led to prolonged and painful deaths. Previous PETA exposés have revealed workers painfully live-plucking ducks and geese, leaving them with bloody, gaping wounds, including on farms connected to purportedly “responsible” companies.
“No decorative pillow is worth tearing feathers out by the fistful from shrieking birds or condemning animals to a bloody death,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “PETA is calling on RH to stop ignoring the severe cruelty we have shown to exist, commission this overdue report, and ditch down.”
The European Court of Auditors has noted numerous examples of failure to comply with even minimal standards of animal welfare across the EU, such as inadequate stunning procedures at slaughter. Big down producers like Poland are chief violators of cruelty-to-animal laws, especially when it comes to live-plucking and procedures inside slaughterhouses. EU audits claim that the high average slaughter-line pace of 11,500 birds per hour makes it impossible to carry out post-mortem inspections reliably, so many birds are improperly stunned and suffer immensely, as seen in a current PETA Germany investigation into a Polish down supplier.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
The full text of PETA’s resolution is below.
RH has identified responsible sourcing and vendor compliance as a key component of its ESG programs. Hence, it requires its vendors to conduct their sourcing “in compliance with local and internationally recognized laws with respect to animal welfare.” In addition, RH has pledged to “monitor certain animal and natural products such as those made with down feathers” in an effort to obtain down and feathers from “ethical and humane sources.” Nevertheless, RH provides no transparency regarding its monitoring process and, specifically, whether its monitoring has confirmed vendor compliance with animal welfare laws or what is done when a vendor is found engaging in practices that are noncompliant.
In the past year, PETA entities have released exposés of facilities in Russia, Vietnam, and Poland, three of the world’s largest down exporters. These investigations confirm that atrocious cruelty, gross lapses in oversight, and multiple violations of industry standards and both local and international laws are rampant in the down industry.
On so-called “responsibly certified” farms, sick and injured ducks languished in crowded and filthy lots. Shrieking and terrified geese were slaughtered on site by workers who stretched the birds’ necks out across a stump, then repeatedly hacked at them—as many as seven times before decapitation was complete—with a dull axe.
Inadequate stunning at multiple slaughterhouses caused immense and prolonged suffering to ducks who were left hanging upside down from leg shackles, some flapping wildly as they slowly bled to death after being slashed or stabbed in the neck.
No attempt was made to stun birds killed in homes that doubled as slaughterhouses, where a worker pierced ducks’ necks with a knife and cut off their legs as they continued to struggle. In Poland, where such forms of cruelty appear to violate the European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter and Poland’s Animal Protection Act 1997, this abuse has been reported to a public prosecutor. In Vietnam, where this inhumane treatment of birds violates the country’s Law on Animal Husbandry 2018, a complaint has been submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Companies must now contend with disrupted supply chains and tarnished reputations in the wake of these revelations. It is abundantly clear that RH cannot depend on third-party audits, industry regulators, or government bodies to ensure that our company sources down in a manner consistent with its publicly stated values and pledges.
BE IT RESOLVED:
Shareholders request that RH issue a report prior to December 31, 2023, on the treatment of ducks and geese on farms and at slaughterhouses in our company’s down supply chain in order to determine whether these operations comply with applicable animal welfare laws. The report should also address the risks presented by the company’s sourcing of down that is incompatible with animal welfare laws and the company’s plans, if any, to mitigate these risks. The report should omit confidential and privileged information and should be prepared at a reasonable expense.