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Chinese fur, Britain and the EU

Click here to enlargeAs is the practice with most web sites, we reduce the size of images so that the page loads faster. The visitor to the site can then, if they wish, click on the image to expand it. In the case of this photo there is the added advantage that you can prepare yourself before seeing the full size image.

This was taken at Lo Wu market, on the border between Shienzhen and the Hong Kong New Territories. Whether the merchant had a buyer for the skin first, whether he wanted to sell the living animal and fur separately for a better price, or perhaps he wanted to "tenderize" the meat through pain, we do not know. For whatever reason, he skinned this wretched rabbit alive and then displayed it for sale WHILST STILL ALIVE. It is impossible to imagine the torment this poor animal must have suffered.

In enclosing this image. our correspondent wrote, "These rabbits were kept alive for buyers. In order to stop them de-hydrating, the vendor sprayed them with water at intervals. This sort of thing really makes me worried for dogs and cats, because one is frightened that these people genuinely have no sympathy. They are not necessarily sadists, although I am sure many are, but just do not regard animals as being different in any way to vegetables."

Carpet of cruelty

29th May 2003

An eerie silence hangs over the vast courtyard in the centre of the small Chinese village of Huangchen. To the untrained eye, the 'produce' neatly spaced out on its stone floor looks no more sinister than the remnants one might find in any garment factory.

But look more closely at the ordered items awaiting distribution to European fashion houses and wholesalers, and the full, horrific truth becomes apparent.

This is a scene of canine carnage; a mass grave, if you will. For every one of these multi-shaded pelts was once a healthy dog.

Just hours before this disturbing picture was taken, the courtyard was home to several hundred barking, tail-wagging animals.

Then, with a brutality that beggars belief, each one was slaughtered so that their flesh could be sold as meat and their coats made into handbags, shoes, car-seat covers and briefcases.

Carpet of cruelty. Click to enlarge
One by one, dogs are taken into a filthy shed where staff using long-handled tongs restrain each animal around the neck. A second person then strikes the dog over the head with an iron bar before plunging a knife into its throat, drawing it down towards the heart.

The slain beast is then skinned, and its meat freshly sliced, chopped and parcelled up for distribution to local restaurants. Stewed, fried or minced - and served with lots of chilli - dog meat is a delicacy in the Shandong province of northern China, where it is sold for the equivalent of £1.70 a kilo.

The Chinese believe that dog meat holds special medicinal properties. It is thought to benefit the internal organs and is considered to be particularly good for the elderly and infirm.

Even the dogs' bones and teeth are sold. The teeth are exported mostly to Thailand, where they are mixed with ivory and sold as if they were pure ivory. Bones, meanwhile, are crushed and used in animal food.

Only the dogs' feet are deemed virtually useless, left rotting in a dump on the edge of the village until they are boiled down to be turned into glue.

But it is the hides that are most valuable - selling at around £3 apiece to local factories, where assembly lines transform them into a range of fashion accessories, many of which end up on sale in the West.

Once skinned, the pelt will be washed in industrial machines and left to dry in the sun for several days before being marketed.

These dogs will soon be killed in the cruelest manner
A dozen top-quality skins can be sewn into one coat, and sold for around £50. It is the dogs that have been raised as pets whose pelts raise the highest prices of all.

Because these animals have been allowed to roam free - sleeping outside the family home in a pig pen - their fur is deemed to be of higher quality than the dogs raised in factories.

As a result, most families in the area raise several dogs - some up to 100 - to supplement their income.

Every year, thousands of St Bernard puppies are smuggled into China to be bred with the local dogs, in the hope of producing bigger, meatier animals, with thicker coats.

Then in spring, just before the moulting season, dogs are sold to local businesses, like the one pictured here, to be killed and skinned.

Huangchen village is believed to be the largest fur-trading market in China, possibly the world.

This factory is owned by four brothers who previously processed malt for food, but who switched to selling dog meat 20 years ago, later branching out into selling the hides.

The brothers are a familiar sight in the region, gathering the dogs in motorbikes with baskets on the back, then slaughtering them altogether when they have a big order.

Today some slaughterhouses are reported to make £500,000 a year. It is a huge sum by any standards, but all the more obscene when set alongside the cruelty and suffering they mete out to man's best friend.

The photo above was used in an advertisement on "Trade Me" (the New Zealand version of eBay) in an auction on 27 June 2008 for a bed imported from China. After outraged protests from New Zealanders it was replaced by one without the St Bernard skin. Both photos had been supplied by the Chinese manufacturer.

The following is a genuine advertisement, one of many that can easily be found on the internet. Market Place
TEXTILE AND LEATHER Apparel & Footwear Other apparel > Dog skin fur overcoats

Product :Dog skin fur overcoats

Supplier Tianjin ABLE Int'l Co., Ltd.

click for detail photo
our other products
Products Description
Our company produce fur garments,specializing in Dog fur overcoats.Fur tanning and processing equipments of various kinds which were the most advanced.Our products sell wellin a mumber of countries and regions such as Russia,East Europe market,etc.
Address RM 17-101,Tengfei Road 9, TEDA,TIANJIN.
Country Code 0086
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Tel 25320679
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Key Contact Li jianguang

The following article appeared in The Sunday Telegraph (UK) on 23/12/01

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.
Souvenir shops
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.”

Massive scale
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 (pdf format)

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 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,

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