Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter
From 21 May 2003 Issue
Dogs and cats slaughtered for fur
Hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are being slaughtered annually for their fur and the market in Europe is growing, according to reports.
A recent investigation by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) exposed the trade, which is active across three continents, and showed cats and dogs being beaten, strangled and stripped of their fur.
The US was shocked by the reports and the government subsequently made it illegal to export or sell products made with dog and cat fur.
However, because of the US ban, the European market is said to have expanded.
A video showing a furrier with a blanket said to have been made from cats farmed in Belgium has been distributed by animal rights activists who posed as potential buyers.
According to campaigners, around 2 million of the animals are killed every year and exported mostly from China and the Philippines.
Many are bred specifically for the process, but often there are stolen or stray pets involved.
Labour MP Dr Nick Palmer has spoken of his concerns about the illegal trade in the House of Commons.
He said that a motion calling for a ban on the use of cat and dog fur in Britain was signed by 223 MPs - one of the largest for any issue in this and the previous Parliament.
He quoted from research conducted by the Nottingham-based Respect for Animals organization and from HSUS.
Dr Palmer said: "Typically, around 50 cat or dog skins are used to make one full-length fur coat, although skins are also used for trimming and on coats made of fur from other animals.
"Animals are generally kept in a long row of wire cages, like battery chickens, in an open-sided shed.
"I shall not go into detail, but animals were filmed in appallingly cramped conditions and being beaten and skinned alive.
"With that background, there is no reasonable doubt that very few British consumers would knowingly wear cat or dog fur.
"However, the fur is often disguised with fraudulent labeling and there is often no description of fur trimming on cloth coats or it is described as "other fur".
Dr Palmer said furs are bleached and dyed to make them resemble more expensive fur, and that process also uses carcinogens such as benzene.
He said that in 2000, more than 21 metric tonnes of "other fur", which is the category that includes cat and dog fur, was imported into the UK from China and Hong Kong.
"As the figure is not broken down further, and as we know that there is substantial evasion of labeling, it is difficult to be more precise than that, but we are discussing a substantial block," he said.
"The likelihood of someone bringing an action under the WTO rules is small because they would first have to admit that they conducted the trade," he added.
Dog fur can be labelled as: Asian jackal, Corsac fox, dogues du Chine, Gae-wolf, goupee, loup d'Asie or sobaki while cat fur may be called house cat, goyangi, katzenfelle, rabbit, mountain or wild cat.
Return to Animals in Print 21 May 2003 Issue
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