Every year, over 2 million dogs and cats are tortured, brutally slaughtered, and skinned — sometimes alive — for their fur. Based mainly in China, Thailand, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian regions, the million-dollar cat and dog fur market sustains itself because of world-wide consumer demand and a deceitful practice of mislabelling.
It can be nearly impossible to distinguish cat or dog fur from that of another animal. Fur traders, who know consumers will not purchase companion animal fur, intentionally mislabel their pelts before selling and shipping them out. Most people aren’t aware that a fur hat marked “rabbit fur” is actually made from domestic cat fur — or that an unlabeled ten-dollar trinket includes German Shepherd fur. Even the seemingly innocent label “faux fur” might be nothing more than marketing trickery.
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. Sometimes 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 the pelt.
Travel is horrid for the animals. They may make long distance treks in trucks with up to 8,000 other animals, in sacks or crates with up to 20 animals per cage. Often, live animals are crowded in with animals that have died before reaching their slaughter destination.
The majority of the dogs and cats are weak, crying, ill, suffering from 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 its pelt from its face.
It has been 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 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 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, a private member’s bill was proposed in 2006 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.
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 about 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.