Holiday Shoppers Beware: European Union Refusing to Ban Dog and Cat Fur Trade

The Humane Society of the United States
Wednesday, 12 November 2003

With the holiday season quickly approaching, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation's largest animal protection organization, is warning European consumers to be on the look out and avoid purchasing items that could well turn out to be something they would not usually dream of buying cat and dog fur and skins on clothing and trinkets.

Unlike the United States which has a federal ban on the import, export, sale and production of cat and dog fur and skins in its shops, consumers and merchants in Europe are continuing to be duped into buying and selling cat and dog fur and skins because the European Union (EU) continues to drag its heals on curtailing this trade.

"The EU's refusal to crack down on this industry is inexplicable," said Betsy Dribben, director of the European office of Humane Society International (HSI), the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States. "Consumers in Europe should contact EU Consumer Commissioner David Byrne and ask that this perverse trade be stopped immediately. Closing European markets to the influx of these products of cruelty are essential if this industry is to meet the end that it so richly deserves."

The clock is now ticking on attempts to get a ban on the use of cat and dog fur in the EU which has become a growing market for consumers who unwittingly purchase these repugnant items.

Members of the European Parliament are currently circulating a Written Declaration calling for an EU ban on the import, export, sales and production of cat and dog fur and skins. This document requires 314 legislator signatures by December 22, 2003 for it to become the official position of the European Parliament and force the European Commission to address this issue something which the Commission has dodged for more than two years. The Council of EU Agriculture Ministers has also placed this issue on its November 17 official agenda for discussion but it is unlikely it will come up for a vote at that meeting.

More than two million cats and dogs are killed each year solely for their furs and skins, the majority of which is used in clothing and toys that are being shipped to consumers in Europe, according to Humane Society International. Asian merchants regularly use fraudulent labels on goods so that consumers have no idea what they are buying or honest merchants what they are selling. Only Italy and Denmark have instituted bans on the trade.

Four years ago, The HSUS conducted an 18-month undercover investigation in Asia to document the trade in cat and dog furs and skins. They found a horrific trade where animals are cruelly raised then slaughtered by stabbing or strangling solely for their furs and skins. As a result of the compelling documentation, the U.S. enacted a federal ban on the import and export of these furs and skins in 2000. "With Asian warehouses filled with these skins, it is not surprising that the market appears to have shifted to Europe," said European director, Betsy Dribben.

Since the initial investigation, undercover work has been done in Europe with startling results. Cat and dog furs and skins in coats, boots and glove linings, pompom trims, hair bows, cat toy figurines and full sized blankets have turned up in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Belgium.

The HSUS is the nation's largest animal protection organization with over seven million members and constituents. The HSUS is a mainstream voice for animals, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife, animals in research and farm animals and sustainable agriculture. Humane Society International (HSI) is the international arm of The HSUS with offices that cover Europe, Costa Rica and Australia.

For more information, or to contact The Humane Society of the United States, see their website at: www.hsus.org

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