Cats Protection Inverurie

Government 'sympathetic' to dog and cat fur import ban

The Government says it is "sympathetic" to a ban on the import of domestic cat and dog fur despite the initial failure to find an accurate test.

Animal welfare groups estimate more than two million cats and dogs are killed each year in China for their fur, which is used as trimmings on coats and in children's toys.

Mike O'Brien, Minister of State for Trade, announced six months ago the Government would support a ban in principle if hard evidence was produced on the extent of domestic cat and dog imports into the UK.

Since then just one sample of domestic dog and none for domestic cats have been produced, Mr O'Brien said.

In addition, attempts to find a reliable test to accurately identify the fur of domestic cats and dogs proved more work was needed.

Mr O'Brien said the Government was putting pressure on the European Parliament to bring in a community-wide ban as there was stronger evidence that domestic cat and dog fur had been used in other member countries.

The Minister said: "Animal welfare groups have rightly raised serious ethical concerns about the alleged used of domestic cat and dog fur in the UK.

"Our priority remains the need to establish the facts about the extent of this alleged trade, to ensure there is a valid scientific test that can identify these furs, and to act in a measured way."

Anti-fur campaign group Respect for Animals welcomed the Government's position on a possible ban and for applying pressure where it is needed in Europe.

Cats 'farmed for skins in EU'

BBC News has seen evidence which suggests that cats are being farmed for their skins in the European Union.
It is thought that tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands of cat and dog skins are traded in Europe each year. Campaigners say that now is the time for national governments or the European Commission to act.

Europe, it seems, is a magnet for cat and dog fur. Cat blankets, so the aficionados say, are good for rheumatism.

US ban

Dog pelts are often labelled misleadingly and sold as the fur of some exotic, even mythical beast. A video seen by BBC correspondent Tim Franks shows one Belgian furrier displaying a blanket he says was made from cats farmed in Belgium. What is more, he says that stray cats and dogs are rounded up and skinned.

That would seem to contradict the assertion from the officials who help run the EU at the European Commission that there is no cat or dog farming inside the union.

"Let me say that cats and dogs are not farmed for their fur in the 15 member states of the European Union," EU Health and Consumer Protection commissioner David Byrne wrote to a British member of the European Parliament last year.

Officials in Brussels repeated on Thursday that they had no evidence of cat or dog farming in the EU.

They said it was up to national governments to ban the trade in cat and dog fur.

Cat and dog fur trade

Campaigners claim 2 million cats and dogs slaughtered every year

Main exporter:
12 to 15 adult dogs needed to make a dog fur coat
Up to 24 cats needed for a cat fur coat
Cat and dog fur also used in hats, gloves, shoes, blankets, stuffed animals and toys

Dog fur sometimes labelled as:
Gae-wolf, sobaki, Asian jackal, goupee, loup d'Asie, Corsac fox, dogues du Chine, or simply fake or exotic fur

Cat fur sometimes labelled as:
house cat, wild cat, katzenfelle, rabbit, goyangi, mountain cat
Since the US has banned the trade of cat and dog skins, the European market has expanded.

Alsatian coat

So far, though, only Italy has brought in such a ban.

British MEP Struan Stevenson told the BBC that two million cats and dogs are being killed in China alone each year, in order to satisfy demand in Europe. He also said that he has seen videos of animals being skinned alive.

As evidence of the trade he has collected:

A blanket made out of four golden retrievers, bought in Copenhagen
Individual cat skins complete with eye-holes, paws and tails, bought in Barcelona
A full-length coat made out of up to 42 Alsatian puppies, bought in Berlin
Campaigners accuses the European Commission of lacking the political will to address the issue, arguing that the trade is not only morally repugnant, but also a case of consumer fraud.

The British Department of Trade and Industry says it is examining the case for more scientific testing and more accurate labelling. But it says that scientific testing very difficult to do on account of the expense and the shortage of laboratories capable of doing it.