New California Bill Fixes Loophole That Lets Fur Go Unlabeled

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New California Bill Fixes Loophole That Lets Fur Go Unlabeled

By Kayla Coleman on Care2.com
February 2010

[Ed. Note: See images of raccoon dogs skinned alive for their fur. Labeling of fur from these dogs is some of what is at issue in this new bill.]

You can support A.B. 1656 and tell California's Governor Shwarzenegger that you want all fur labeled, no matter the value, by signing a petition.

I was shocked to learn that in fact these furs are coming from animals like dog or rabbit but just aren’t labeled.

This misleading "faux" fur is often from raccoon dog, which, according to Grzybowski, is "the most misrepresented and unlabeled fur sold here". These dogs with raccoon-like fur are raised by the millions in China because skinning them for their pelts is cheaper than fabricating fur.

Beware: there's a reason that "faux" fur collar on your jacket feels as soft as the fur on your rescue dog.

San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma has proposed a new California bill, A.B. 1656, which would correct a current federal law's loophole that allows animal fur to go unlabeled on clothes valued under $150.

Says Ma: "A.B. 1656 is about protecting consumer rights -- I think there is an expectation that if clothing isn’t labeled as real fur it must be fake fur. I was shocked to learn that in fact these furs are coming from animals like dog or rabbit but just aren’t labeled. People have a right to know if they are buying dog fur or a polyester blend. It shouldn’t be a mystery."

In November 2009, Humane Society fur expert Pierre Grzybowski went undercover with a news team in the Los Angeles area to expose the unlabeled animal fur lurking in California shopping malls. When asked if the garment had real fur, the salespeople at multiple stores, including Arden B. and Grasshopper Children's Boutique, replied "no"-- but when the team took the items back to the car and the fur expert cut them open, it was clear that the presumed "faux" fur was actually from an animal.

This misleading "faux" fur is often from raccoon dog, which, according to Grzybowski, is "the most misrepresented and unlabeled fur sold here". These dogs with raccoon-like fur are raised by the millions in China because skinning them for their pelts is cheaper than fabricating fur. Since clothing with this type of fur goes unlabeled, and because the clothing is cheap and the fur is often died artificial-looking colors like hot pink, salespeople, store owners -- even buyers and manufacturers -- assume that the fur is faux.

To see if your "faux" clothes aren't dog fur in disguise, the HSUS has a guide for telling the difference between the two. Basically, you want to look deep, deep down into the fur--if the base of the fur clearly shows stitching and threadwork, it's a fake. But if beneath the fur, leather lurks, it's real animal fur.

The safest way to ensure you're not buying real fur is to not buy anything that looks like fur--real or faux. Some animal rights supporters and anti-fur proponents don't wear any real OR faux fur, because even if you wear faux (and even if it really IS faux) -- your appearance still sends the message that fur is a luxurious and desirable look and conveys the notion that fur is fashionable. I think it's safe to say that wearing fur is definitely a statement -- but the statement of wearing faux fur can get lost in transaltion. Not wearing anything that could even be mistaken for fur garauntees that you won't send the message that the fur-look is stylish, and you won't propel designers to keep using fur in their clothes.

If California passes this bill, they will join Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin as a state with a fur labeling law -- eliminating any mistaken "faux" fur. Consumers should be able to know what they are buying, and what they are buying into -- people have been unknowingly supporting the cruel fur industry with what they mistakenly thought was a conscientious fashion choice.