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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claim that fur-farms use genital electrocution techniques to kill animals without damaging the fur:

Animals have clamps attached to or rods forced into their mouths and anuses, and they are painfully electrocuted. Genital electrocution—deemed "unacceptable" by the American Veterinary Medical Association in its "2000 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia"—causes animals to suffer from cardiac arrest while they are still conscious.

Does genital-electrocution of an animal cause "immediate" death?

  • Related question, but I don't think quite a dupe Are animals skinned alive or dead for their pelt? – Sam I Am Feb 4 '12 at 14:15
  • @SamIAm I saw that one before creating this one. They are different. :) – Aquarius_Girl Feb 4 '12 at 14:28
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    Wait a sec, why is mouth+anus electrocution called "genital"? It's got nothing to do with genitalia... – Sklivvz Feb 5 '12 at 9:45
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    Either way, neither mouth or anus are not reproductive organs. – vartec Feb 5 '12 at 14:48
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    @Sklivvz Maybe PETA wanted to "sex up" (literally) their headline, or maybe they called it that because the mouth and anus are sometimes used as receptacles of genitalia, so the rods are acting like genitalia. – Andrew Grimm Mar 18 '12 at 1:07
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The report referenced by PETA was updated in June 2007 by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and is now called: AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia

They do discuss electrocution techniques, with references.

ELECTROCUTION Electrocution, using alternating current, has been used as a method of euthanasia for species such as dogs, cattle, sheep, swine, foxes, and mink. Electrocution induces death by cardiac fibrillation, which causes cerebral hypoxia. However, ani­mals do not lose consciousness for 10 to 30 seconds or more after onset of cardiac fibrillation. It is imperative that animals be unconscious before being electrocuted.

So, yes, electrocution takes time - it doesn't cause immediate death - but there are techniques (including "electrical stunning") which avoid the animal suffering.

Electrocution is humane if the animal is first rendered unconscious.

If the PETA depiction is correct, this requirement is not being met.

AVMA warn it is not suitable for all animals:

It may not result in death in small animals (< 5 kg) because ventricular fibrillation and circulatory collapse do not always persist after cessation of current flow.

AVMA do not explicitly mention genital or anal electrocution, but they do say:

Techniques that apply electric current from head to tail, head to foot, or head to moistened metal plates on which the animal is standing are unacceptable.

Presumably, "head to tail" covers the scenario described by PETA, and is therefore considered unacceptable.


In summary, PETA are correct that electrocution without first being rendered unconscious does lead to a slow death. They are correct in saying such techniques are considered unacceptable by the AVMA.

I have not attempted to address any of the other claims that PETA makes - e.g. that fur farms are actually using such techniques and are doing so without first rendering the animal unconscious, and that no laws about the humane treatment of animals protect them.

  • This was a practice used on race horses as well, primarily though not always for (illegal collection of) insurance. It could be done very quickly, but I don't know if it causes instant death. It was referred to as "head to tail" although the it was the process of applying alternating current from mouth to umm under the tail there. It was not considered an ethically humane nor appropriate way of euthanizing a horse. – Ellie Kesselman Nov 23 '12 at 23:38

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