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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Top Retailers and Fashion Designers Are Caught Again Selling Dog Fur but U.S. Officials Continue to Look the Other Way

"Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without."
-- Rue McClanahan

Despite the fact the the importation of clothing apparel made from the fur of domestic cats and dogs has been banned since 2000, the practice continues unabated all across America.

Acting upon a tip from a consumer, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently purchased twenty-five coats from popular retailers and had them subjected to a process known as mass spectrometry. From these tests it was determined that three of the coats were manufactured out of the fur from domestic dogs, twenty came from raccoon dogs (See photo above), one from a wolf, and one from a coyote.

The offending parties comprise a Who's Who of retailers and fashion designers. The roll call of retailers includes Nordstrom's, Macy's, J.C. Penney, Burlington Coat Factory, Lord and Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman, and Nieman Marcus. Even Puff Daddy's Sean John line and Jay-Z's Rocawear were found to contain raccoon dog fur.

Among the designers caught red-handed were such well-known titans of the industry as Andrew Marc, Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan's DKNY, Michael Kors, and Oscar de la Renta.

"It's an industrywide deception," Kristen Leppert of the HSUS told the Los Angeles Times on February 24th. (See "Retailers Pull Dog-Fur-Trimmed Coats Mislabeled as Faux.") A more comprehensive survey would have no doubt also uncovered the wholesale use of cat fur in innumerable garments.

Not only is intentionally importing and selling dog and cat fur punishable by a $10,000 fine for each violation, but mislabeling such garments can bring either a $5,000 fine or a year in the slammer. Although the culprits have agreed to stop selling the coats, they apparently will neither be fined nor jailed.

A loophole in the law does not require fur valued at less than $150 to be labeled at all, but Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia wants to change this. He also wants to criminalize the importation of apparel made from the fur of raccoon dogs which, amazingly enough, is totally legal.

"Americans don't want Lassie turned into a fur coat," he told the Times. "In the United States, we treat cats and dogs as pets, not trimmings for the latest fashion wear." Some years ago, actress Rue McClanahan put it more succinctly when she said, "Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without."

Twenty-four of the coats examined by the HSUS were purposefully mislabeled as either faux or raccoon fur. The remaining coat was trimmed with coyote fur but advertised as imitation. As usual, all of the fur came from either China or South Korea.

Raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are treated especially barbaric. A video shot by the Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) and available at www.animal-protection.net, opens with the stir-crazy dogs fighting desperately to escape their cages. Their struggle is in vain, however, because all of them are doomed.

The dogs are then clubbed and stomped into submission after which their hides are removed through a combination of incisions and manual dexterity while they writhe in excruciating pain on the ground. (See photo above.) It is not known how long they are forced to endure this type of pain before the Grim Reaper claims them, but many of these skinned-alive dogs still have enough strength left in them to attempt to get to their feet which suggests that their suffering is prolonged.

This video is about as sickening and disgusting as it gets, but it is nonetheless required viewing for all individuals who care about animals. In China alone, a million and one-half of these docile and beautiful animals are killed for their fur each year. (See photo below of their pelts spread out to cure.)

Native to Japan, Siberia, and Manchuria, raccoon dogs were introduced to Europe during the last century by the Russians and they are now found in Scandinavia and the Baltic States. In addition to predation by fur traders, their ranks are also being decimated by hunters, automobile drivers, pollution, and disease. Some people in Asia also eat them as a cheap source of protein.

Although they have been known to live for as long as eleven years in captivity, even those lucky enough to avoid the clutches of the diabolical fur traffickers only last about three to four years in the wild.

With the exception of their dog-like feet and short ringless tails, they could be easily au premier coup d'oeil be mistaken as raccoons. They are omnivorous and monogamous and, like possums, they will sometimes play dead in order to escape predators. This tactic, unfortunately, is of absolutely no avail whenever they cross paths with fur traffickers.

They are unique within the canine family in that they are its only members that hibernate during the winter. Thanks to their curved claws, they can also climb trees, which is a feat that only one other canine, the gray fox, is capable of duplicating. (See Mark Trail, February 4, 2007.)

Aside from the horrible murders and abuse of raccoon dogs, domestic cats and dogs, and other wild animals by those involved in the fur trade, the other outrage is the unwillingness of the law enforcement community in this country to enforce the law. The HSUS should not be forced into shouldering the entire load; customs inspectors, the USDA, Justice Department, and state and local officials should be routinely testing all fur, both domestic and imported, in order to make sure that it is not made from cat and dog hides.

It would be better still if the slaughter of all animals for their hides were outlawed. The killing of raccoons, wolves, coyotes, and other wild animals for their fur is no less egregious than the slaughter of domestic animals.

Man is no longer living in the Stone Age. He does not need to wrap himself in animal hides in order to either ward off the cold or to appear fashionable. Apparel made from synthetics, cotton, and other non-animal sources is every bit as warm and fashionable. More to the point, it is the only moral alternative.

It is quite obvious that both retailers and fashion designers are going to continue to flout the law at every turn unless the political and legal establishment comes down on them with both feet. They are also well financed and have an army of propagandists at their disposal concocting all sorts of zany rationales in order to justify their barbaric treatment of animals. Wikipedia's entry on raccoon dogs is a prime example of such sottise.

In January, the EU Commission passed a law banning the importation of cat and dog fur but it remains to be seen if its twenty-seven member states have the political will to enforce it. If the sorry example set by the United States is anything to go by, the Commission has its work cut out for it. (See Cat Defender post of February 5, 2007 entitled "Fur Traffickers and Vivisectors Suspected in the Disappearance of Berlin's Katzen.")

The news is not, thankfully, all bad. Attitudes in China are changing. Modernization is creating a burgeoning middle class that is beginning to look upon cats and dogs as companion animals as opposed to cash crops.

More astonishingly, thirty members of the I Cat Home animal rights group broke into a live market in Tianjin on February 11th and rescued four-hundred-fifteen cats who were destined to be sold in Guangzhou for their meat and fur. (See photo above of caged cats at another Chinese market.)

The rescued felines were relocated to the China Small Animal Protection Association in Beijing where an attempt is being made to find good homes for them. Unfortunately, these courageous and kindhearted cat lovers will likely face prosecution for their heroics. No good deed ever goes unpunished. (See India eNews, February 12, 2007, "Cat Lovers Save 400 Felines in China.")

Another sign that the times are a changing is the recent appearance of animal rights' billboards on the streets of Beijing and elsewhere in China. One erected by Animals Asia Foundation (See photo above) in Beijing admonishes citizens to remember that cats and dogs are man's best friends and that they need everyone's love and respect.

The summer Olympics will be held next year in Beijing and this is going to be an ideal time for activists both within and outside the Middle Kingdom to focus attention on its atrocious animal rights record. Paul McCartney has even gone so far as to urge that the games be boycotted unless China mends its evil ways. (See Cat Defender post of December 15, 2005 entitled "Heather Mills Asks EU to Ban Sale of Cat and Dog Fur; Paul McCartney Calls for Boycott of Chinese Goods and Olympics.")

Photos: Japanese Wikipedia (raccoon dogs), Swiss Animal Protection (raccoon dog being skinned alive), Fur Kills (raccoon dog pelts, and caged cats), and Animals Asia Foundation (Beijing billboard.)