|More than two million dogs and cat are killed each year |
in China for their fur
By Carly Ikuma
On June 19, the European Parliament voted unanimously to ban dog and cat fur from being imported or exported into European Union countries. The ban, spurred by international outrage over images of dogs and cats being callously killed for their fur, will take affect Jan. 1, 2009.
View a chronology of The EU's actions on this issue. Click here.
The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International sent a team to investigate and document claims of extreme cruelty in China's fur industry in the late 1990s. For 18 months, investigators captured unsettling images that included a German Shepherd being skinned alive in public view and cats being slowly strangled to death in front of their terrified cagemates.
The extent of the enormous dog and cat fur trade in Europe—an industry that results in the gruesome deaths of more than two million cats and dogs per year in China alone—was demonstrated by the number of fur products openly sold in several countries across the continent. Some of the products were falsely advertised, likely because consumers would refuse to purchase the skins and furs of companion animals.
Italy, Denmark, Belgium, France and Greece individually banned dog and cat fur a few years ago, sparking a wave of public pressure for an EU-wide prohibition. In December 2005, EU Commissioner Markos Kyprianou pledged to ban dog and cat fur. A massive letter-writing campaign and petition drive followed, placing pressure on the EU to act quickly. The European Union currently has 27 members and several more in consideration for membership.
Wayne Pacelle, CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, praised the European Parliament's unanimous vote for the ban. Pacelle paid tribute to UK conservative MEP Struan Stevenson "for an unwavering commitment to take the lead in this effort from the very start." He also acknowledged other public figures who helped in the campaign including Heather Mills McCartney, music legends Sir Paul McCartney and Rick Wakeman. And Pacelle applauded Dennis Erdman, a Hollywood director ("Sex in the City") who rallied stars to write the Commission urging immediate action.
In China, a country which has no animal welfare laws, dogs, cats and other animals are openly and legally slaughtered in cruel ways, all to support an industry based on vanity and greed. By closing this market, Chinese fur manufacturers have said that their businesses will certainly suffer. The United States and the European Union are the largest consumers of fur produced in China, and China is the largest exporter of fur in the world.
Dog and cat fur was swiftly banned in the United States in 2000 as a result of the undercover HSUS/HSI investigations, and Australia followed with its own ban shortly after.
It is hoped that this ban, coupled with more intense scrutiny of China ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, will push the Chinese authorities to initiate strong animal welfare laws and tough enforcement.