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Betrayal of Trust: The Global Trade in Dog and Cat Fur

Chained Dog

Since 1997, The Humane Society of the United States has investigated and documented the international trade in dog and cat fur, ultimately leading to a U.S. ban on products that use such fur. Our extensive, widely reported undercover investigation has spanned the globe from source countries such as China, the Philippines, and Thailand to retailers and wholesalers in the United States, Germany, Italy, France and—most recently—Denmark.

Our investigators exposed the international fur industry's ugly secret: the widespread slaughter of companion animals—domestic dogs and cats—for the manufacture of clothing, accessories, and trinkets. Investigators witnessed firsthand the brutal slaughter of domestic dogs and cats in China and other Asian nations. What we found shocked people. Many of these animals are raised in cold, unsanitary breeding compounds. Some are strays. Others are obviously pets who were most likely stolen. And the killing methods are grisly. Dogs—German shepherds, chows, and mixed breeds—are bludgeoned or bled to death. Cats are often strangled by wire nooses.

Millions of dogs and cats are killed annually for their fur. Investigators found stores of 50,000 to 100,000 pelts at factories in Asia. Usually 10 to 12 adult dogs are killed to manufacture each coat; even more if puppy fur is used. One cat fur coat requires the killing of up to 24 felines. Fur-covered figurines may contain the pieces of pelts of several animals, or may just be the pelt of one unlucky victim. The slaughter of these animals is violent and pitiless. Cats are strangled inside their cages as other cats look on. Dogs are noosed about the neck with metal wires, then slashed across the groin. The wire noose cuts into their throats as they struggle in pain before finally losing consciousness.

In Harbin, China, HSUS investigators documented a German shepherd still blinking and conscious as he was being skinned. At a dog farm several hours north of Harbin investigators documented dead dogs hanging from hooks as others, still alive, awaited their fate inside the same cold room.

The Products

Dog and cat fur is marketed and sold to Europe and North America. Dogs and cats may be killed in one country and processed in another, and the finished products sold anywhere in the world. The primary use of dog and cat fur is not for full-length fur coats, but for fur-trim parkas, gloves, hats, toys, and other accessories. Fur-covered animal figurines also frequently use dog and cat fur—an estimated 20% of all the figurines made, in fact (the balance of fur comes from rabbits and goats).

Labeling

This slaughter is so unconscionable that the industry has tried to obscure the truth with misleading labels. With rare exceptions, dog and cat products are not labeled as such. Dog-fur products have been sold as gae-wolf, goupee, Asian wolf, China wolf, Mongolia dog fur, Sobaki, Pommern wolf, dogue de Chine, and loup d'Asie. Cat fur has sold as rabbit, maopee, goyangi, katzenfelle, natuerliches mittel, chat de Chine, and gatto cinesi. In fact, fur manufacturers in China told HSUS investigators they would sew any label onto dog and cat garments to make them more marketable.

Export documentation for dog and cat fur figurines usually identifies the contents as rabbit fur. When asked, most retailers will support this belief, since they've been told that the fur on figurines comes from rabbits, and that it is a byproduct of the food industry in China. U.S. fur labeling laws, which require manufacturers to disclose the type of animal killed, only apply to garments, and even they are exempted if they cost less than $150. The U.S. Dog and Cat Protection Act, however, requires all products containing dog or cat fur to be labeled as such.

To read The HSUS's brochure, Betrayal of Trust, download the PDF.

To read the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, passed after Congress learned of The HSUS's investigation, download the PDF.

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