She charges hundreds for fur made of road-kill

Turning roadkill into high-fashion fur
Turning roadkill into high-fashion fur

A dead animal on the side of the road makes plenty of people cringe, but not Pamela Paquin.

She turns roadkill into expensive high-fashion fur pieces.

Pamela Paquin, founder of Petite Mort Fur, sells items including a coyote neck muff ($1,500), a red fox wrap stole ($2,000) and racoon leg warmers ($2,000.) Some pieces are a tad less pricey, like a $45 pair of fur earrings.

Her aim is to create a new market for what she calls "ethical fur."

Nearly 1 million animals are killed every day on the road, according to the Humane Society of the United States. And over 50 million animals are killed each year in the fur industry, according to Last Chance for Animals.

That's where Paquin sees an opportunity.

"It was a wasted resource and I decided after some deep thought that I could make a viable business out of this," she said, adding that she hopes to "completely mitigate the need to have animals in cages."

Paquin, who lives outside of Boston, works with the Highway Department and animal control officers who are responsible for clearing animals killed on roads.

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"I started working with the Highway Department and animal control officers who would report them to me when they had an animal down. They took me seriously, thank God."

Now, when they hear of dead animals, they contact Paquin.

She drives out to pick the animal up herself. And if it's possible, she skins the animal where she found it.

"I like to put the remains in the woods for other animals to have safely as a meal. It's like roadkill sushi, really, but it's in a safe place rather than having the scavengers go on the road and get hit as well."

Next Paquin ships her furs to a tannery. After that,she sews her one-of-a-kind pieces. Each fur piece is adorned with a sterling silver badge that says what the animal was and where and when it was killed. One neckmuff says the fur came from a bear that was killed on Route 91 in Brattleboro, Vermont.

"It's a way for the customer to honor the animal and the animal's life, rather than dissociating from it in the way you have to when you have fur that comes from trapped or caged animals."

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Paquin wears her own creations and says people often stop her to ask where the fur came from.

"When I tell them it was roadkill, their eyes roll back in their head and their jaw drops on the ground," Paquin said. But that doesn't stop them from ordering.

"I could not sew fast enough," she said. "It was more than I could handle, really. I was trying to keep up."

As a young girl, Paquin grew up around animals and spent time on farms. When her sixth-grade biology teacher asked if someone could bring roadkill to class for dissection, Paquin happily volunteered.

And that mentality has carried on through her life.

"If I'm going to benefit from an animal's life and consequential death, then I need to be able to look it in the eye and face it, and make sure that it's done well and with respect."

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