PONGO, Perdita and their fellow dalmatians can relax at last. The trade in cat and dog fur in Britain is to be banned. Ministers will announce next month that the importation of domestic animal pelts to this country from China will be outlawed. (This legislation has yet to be passed - the British govt has since stated that there is insufficient evidence that this trade exists! - Sirius)
The move follows a two-year campaign by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which used the films 101 Dalmatians and 102 Dalmatians to dramatise the issue. In the films, Glenn Close, the actress, played the evil Cruella de Vil, who longs for a coat of dalmatian puppy skin.
The ban came as it emerged that a fur coat collar, obtained from a leading store in the West End of London - which cannot be named for legal reasons - contained dog fur.
The tests were carried out by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the American equivalent of the RSPCA. Lisa Bob, the director of research at the HSUS, said: "Using mitochondrial DNA testing, one fur collar has proved positively to belong to the family Canidae - which includes domestic dogs.
"The collar was bought in the West End from a large furrier and was simply labelled as fur - not specifying which species it came from."
This first positive result will give extra weight to RSPCA claims that up to two million cats and dogs are slaughtered every year in China to provide fur sold in stores in Britain and other European Union countries. It is often mis-labelled as rabbit pelt or just given the generic title fur.
Dog fur, often from alsatians, is labelled as "gae-wolf", "sobaki", "gubi" or "Asian jackal", while cat fur may be described as "wild cat", "goyangi" or "mountain cat".
In America, dog and cat fur was banned from sale in 1998 after a public outcry. Baroness Symons of Vernon Dean, the Foreign Office minister, last week confirmed that Britain would implement a similar ban.
She said: "The Government agrees that the import, export and trade in domestic cat and dog fur is abhorrent. We are exploring what enforceable steps we might take to ban any such imports."
A Foreign Office official said: "This is a Government commitment to ban the importation and selling of dog and cat fur. The law will have to be changed to bring about a ban, which could be on the statute book by September, 2002.
"Measures that could be taken to enforce it could include DNA checks on fur on sale by trading standards inspectors."
Two years ago, an RSPCA investigation uncovered a huge trade in importing the fur into Britain. The import and sale of cat and dog furs is currently legal here and in other EU states, but traders are aware of public unease about the skins. The campaigners claim that traders use false labels to avoid alerting customers to what they are buying.
In March 1999, it was revealed that Alaska Brokerage International, a leading fur importer based next to the British Fur Trade Association in London, was prepared to import dog and cat fur into Britain.
An undercover journalist from the BBC2 programme, Newsnight, filmed a salesman offering 10,000 dressed "goupee furs" - dog fur - and 150,000 cat furs.
Animal rights campaigners are conducting further DNA tests on fur items bought from leading British stores in March last year, suspecting that they contain the fur of cats or dogs.
Although final results are not yet available, researchers believe that they will prove that dog and cat fur is on sale in Britain.
As part of the HSUS investigation, researchers filmed dogs and cats being stabbed, beaten and throttled to death before being skinned in China. The researchers also reported seeing some animals still breathing as their pelts were removed.
An RSPCA spokesman said: "There is no doubt that cat and dog fur is used in clothing on sale in the high street and we welcome all moves to stop this trade." Labour has close financial links with some animal rights groups, including one allied to the RSPCA.
The party has received donations of £1,150,000 from the Political Animal Lobby, (PAL), including one of £47,582 just before the election. PAL was formed by Brian Davies, who also founded the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Although independent, the organisations are perceived as having the same aims. The IFAW, along with the RSPCA and the League Against Cruel Sports, belong to the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals, whose representative, John Rolls, the RSPCA's chief spokesman, met Tony Blair 48 hours before he announced that the Government would ban hunting with hounds.
The British government later reneged on its promise to ban the importation of dog and cat furs, claiming that (a) there was no evidence that these imports even existed and that (b) any such legislation would have to come from the European Union.
Horror Chinese imports on sale in UK
Cuddly toy made
from dead dogs
By Adam Docherty
11th October 2002, Sunday Post
Mr Stevenson and one of the toys
|THE truth about this life-like cuddly toy will shock animal lovers the length and breadth of the country.
It was bought in Scotland and appears to be a cute kitten, curled up asleep safe and sound in its wicker bed.
But this “kitten” is made from the fur of REAL dogs — farmed in horrendous circumstances in China and slaughtered for their pelts.
Some are skinned before they are completely dead.
The horrific discovery was made by Scots MEP Struan Stevenson (pictured left), who bought this particular toy from a souvenir shop in Shetland. It was labelled “Made in China”. Small print on the reverse of the label described it as an “animal by-product”.
We found similar items in a number of shops in Glasgow.
Mr Stevenson says this and similar toys are in gift and souvenir shops around Britain and Europe. Ironically, they’re a firm favourite with pet lovers unaware of their true origins.
Pelts are often mislabelled, says Mr Stevenson, so retailers will innocently stock them and customers have no idea what they’re really made of.
Identical toys, bought in Holland, were tested for DNA by the Academic Medical Centre of Amsterdam.
Results proved conclusively that they were made of dog hair.
Mr Stevenson has been tirelessly campaigning for years to put an end to the European market for the remains of dogs and cats farmed in China.
The USA has already banned the trade, following an 18-month undercover investigation conducted by the Humane Society International in Communist China.
They documented the brutal lives and cruel deaths of more than two million dogs and cats in Asia each year — killed solely for their skins.
Since then, Asian exporters have turned to Europe as a market for their products.
As well as fur products, dog skins are also used as shoe leather or in some dog chew toys — which means domestic pets may be eating the skins of other dogs.
Richard Swain, the Humane Society’s undercover investigator and a former Maryland police captain, said, “Make no mistake about it, this fur is being sold throughout Europe. In China I have seen warehouses the size of football fields piled to the ceiling with dog and cat fur waiting to be exported to the West.”
Struan Stevenson continued, “This is the evidence I have been waiting for. It confirms without a doubt that the appalling trade in cat and dog fur has penetrated the European market on a massive scale.
“Since the USA banned all cat and dog products, Europe has become the new dumping ground. Italy has banned cat and dog imports and it is about time other EU member states followed suit.
“I will be writing to Commissioner David Byrne demanding he apply an EU-wide ban on these products. I will be sending him the latest scientific evidence as well as a copy of The Sunday Post to convince him to act now.”
European Parliament launches campaign to ban imports of dog and cat fur from China
Reuters, BELGIUM: December 4, 2003
BRUSSELS - Think twice about buying a tiny cat soft toy this Christmas - it could be made from dog fur.
Members of European Parliament launched a campaign on Wednesday for a ban on imports of cat and dog fur across the 15-nation European Union.
"This cat soft toy is made from the butchery of dogs in China...the citizens of Europe want a ban on this evil trade," Scottish Conservative assembly member Struan Stevenson told a news conference, displaying items made from pet pelts.
He also showed a fur coat made from the skins of 42 German Shepherd puppies and a rug made from the fur of four Golden Retriever dogs - goods bought in the EU and sold under false labels.
More than two million cats and dogs are killed in China each year for their fur, animal rights groups say.
Stevenson described how dogs, traditionally man's best friend, have their abdomens slit and are left to bleed to death in China, referring to a secretly filmed animal rights video.
"I'm a farmer and not a sissy about blood but I couldn't sleep for two nights after seeing the tape," he said.
UPDATE JULY 2007
- Mr Stevenson was successful in December 2003 in persuading his colleagues to back a motion calling for this ban and Written Declaration 17/2003 was passed by a majority of Members of the European Parliament.
The EU Commissioners however took quite some time to deliberate, and it wasn't until November 2006 that they felt able to put a proposition on this to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, a delay of nearly THREE YEARS. Both the Council and the Parliament had to agree and approve the precise wording. Click to view the full proposal from the Commission
There was however a worrying clause in the draft regulation presented by the Commission.
"Article 4 (Implementing Powers),
Section 2. provisions which derogate from the prohibitions provided for in Article 1 for such fur or products containing such fur
– which is labelled as originating from cats or dogs that have not been bred or killed for fur production or
– which are personal or household effects being introduced into the Community, or exported therefrom."
The Council of Agriculture Ministers was not prepared to accept this blatant loophole, and neither was the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. At a meeting on 11-12th April the Committee removed this cowardly loophole from the revised proposal which was then passed by the European Parliament in mid June 2007.
The EU-wide ban will come into effect on 1st January 2009, allowing the individual member countries time to pass the necessary legislation at state level. There is little doubt that it will deal a severe blow to the Chinese dog and cat fur trade when it is finally in force, although until then dogs and cats will continue to be skinned alive for the European market.
Sadly, for reasons known only to themselves, the Parliament ignored the recommendation of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection to extend the protection to raccoon dogs. These animals will continue to have their skins torn from their living bodies to be sold as "faux fur" to unwitting European consumers even after 2009.
If you have not yet seen the video that aroused western revulsion at the end of 2005, you can watch it at http://www.furisdead.com/feat-dogcatfur.asp
but please be warned - it is horrific.
The trade in dog and cat fur is illegal in the USA, Australia and Switzerland. Within the European Union Italy, Belgium, Denmark, France and Greece have already established bans, and we look forward to such a ban soon being introduced throughout the entire 27 nation bloc. Is there any reason why YOUR country cannot be next? Contact your national Animal Welfare Organisations and ask how you can help achieve this aim. Contact your government's representatives and tell them that you DEMAND your nation displays the compassion shown by these other nations.
Together, we CAN end this vile trade in torture,
BUT WITH YOUR HELP!