Every year, over 2 million dogs and cats—animals that are no different from the ones we value as pets—are tortured, brutally slaughtered and skinned (sometimes alive) for their fur. Based mainly in China, but also existing in Thailand, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian regions, this million-dollar market is able to sustain itself because of world-wide consumer demand for fur and a very deceitful practice of mislabelling.
Cat and dog fur is almost never labelled as such. Most people aren’t aware of the possibility that a fur hat marked “rabbit fur” should technically be labelled “domestic cat” or that an unlabeled ten-dollar-trinket should proclaim “Includes German Shepherd fur”. Even the seemingly innocent labels that read “faux fur” can be nothing more than marketing trickery.
Companion animal fur is used for a variety of items including the lining for gloves and boots, trim on garments, hats, blankets and even toys or figurines. It takes up to 12 dogs or 24 cats to make a full-length fur coat. These coats are made regularly and are often displayed alongside similar coats made of minx or fox. Dyed, and arranged on a product, it can be nearly impossible to distinguish cat or dog fur from that of another animal. Thus, fur traders—who know consumers will not purchase the same furs that their beloved pets bear naturally—intentionally mislabel their pelts before selling and shipping them out.
China is the largest exporter of fur in the world, yet has no animal welfare laws in place. This means that animals raised for fur are not protected by law and can legally and publicly be abused and tortured all in the name of money.
There are dog and cat breeding farms scattered across China that range in size from a couple to hundreds of animals. Breeding operations are unsanitary and include minimal food and water to keep the animals weak for slaughter. Animals are packed into enclosures, and made to live short, uncomfortable lives. These farms are more prominent in the north, where colder weather means thicker coats on the animals.
However, often the animals don’t come from breeding farms and may be strays collected from the streets. Other times families will keep a few cats or dogs outside as pets and take them to be skinned once winter approaches. They can then sell the pelts for a few dollars each at the market.
A walk through a fur market would also reveal some animals still wearing collars; sad proof of that they were once owned pets. It can be assumed these animals were captured or stolen by a fur trader who was looking to make a few extra dollars off their pelt.
Travel is horrid for the animals as long distance treks may be made with up to 8,000 animals per truck, in sacks or crates with up to 20 animals per cage. Often live animals will be crowded into a space with animals that have died before reaching their slaughter destination.
The majority of the dogs and cats are weak, crying, ill, have open wounds or have gone insane from confinement or exposure.
Most of the animals are killed by being strung up by their hind legs or neck with a thin metal wire. A worker then stabs them in the groin or stomach and waits for them to bleed to death. Some farms or factories will bludgeon animals to death, suffocate them or use a hose to pour water down their throats until they drown. More often than not, other tightly confined animals are forced to watch and wait.
Whatever method is used, it is not uncommon for an animal to still be conscious as they are skinned. Humane Society International (HSI) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have video and photographical evidence of a German Shepherd (one of the most common breeds used for fur in China) still conscious and blinking as a man pulls it’s pelt from it’s face.
It has been nine years since the United States passed The Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, which blocks all imported products made with cat or dog fur from entering the country. Although it is hard to detect, cat and dog fur can be caught with the use of mass spectrometry or DNA testing.
Other countries including, Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia soon followed suit and passed regulations to block cat and dog fur from crossing their borders, thereby preventing any citizens from unknowingly supporting this barbaric trade.
On January 1, 2009 the European Union implemented a similar act, prohibiting trade of all cat and dog fur. In Canada, in 2006, a private member's bill was proposed to amend the Hazardous Products Act by adding cat and dog fur to the list of products prohibited from import. However, the bill was dissolved along with Parliament that year, which means it is still perfectly legal to import and sell cat and dog fur in Canada.
Imagine your own cat or dog being stolen and savagely killed for its fur.
Instead of seeing cats and dogs as simply ‘animals’ we see them as loyal companions, cherished best friends, beloved family members and even teachers. Their trust in humans and their forgiving nature is even unbearable at times, when they wag their tail, rub up against or lick someone that may not be deserving of such love. People that can truly appreciate these traits in dogs and cats must take a stand.
Every year, over 40 million animals of all species are killed for their fur. Please don’t support the fur industry; ask local retailers to stop selling fur products, don’t buy anything with fur on it and let others know of this pitiless trade by spreading the word.
Remember that if even one animal is spared because you decided against purchasing a fur product, you have made a difference in that one animal’s life.
You can download a pdf of a petition in support of Bill C-296, An Act to Amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Textile Labelling Act to ban the import of products that include cat and dog fur. Please print out and circulate amongst your friends, family and co-workers. Please return the signed petitions to:
ATTN: Communications Coordinator
The Winnipeg Humane Society
45 Hurst Way
Contact The WHS's Communications Coordinator by phone (204-988-8810) or email if you would like a hard copy of the petition mailed to you.
*Photos courtesy of Animals Asia Foundation.