As levels of animal cruelty and suffering in the name of fur production have reached a record high, today Humane Society International (HSI) has written to all major Australian fashion retailers inviting them to sign the 'HSI 2012 Fur Free Pledge' in a bid to raise awareness, reduce demand, and ultimately stop the trade. Those that choose compassion over fashion by signing the Fur Free Pledge will be listed on the HSI website as ethical retailers at http://www.hsi.org.au/, providing a comprehensive reference point to our 40,000 Australian supporters and members of the public.
In recent months this high demand for fur has led to a notable increase in the kidnapping of domestic cats and dogs in China, the biggest exporter of fur in the world, where no laws exist at all to protect animals from abuse. It seems that they will go to any lengths to get animals for the trade, making no distinction between strays and pets, gathering any they can find. Our 18 month undercover investigations in China in 2002 exposed the devastating cruelty endured within fur farms, caged in cramped, filthy conditions. They revealed that over 2 million dogs and cats were slaughtered in the most inhumane ways possible, but the last few years have seen such an increase in demand that this figure is now conservatively closer to 10 million. Animals are often skinned alive to save time and preserve their pelts for the precious trade.
HSI can disclose that although it is illegal to import or sell cat and dog fur in Australia, it has been entering the country in huge quantities, despite Customs controls. As the Government has failed to enforce labelling laws to specify species of origin, it is impossible to know whether the product contains fur from a domestic cat or dog. Fur is often mislabelled as rabbit, with no species specified at all, or even as faux fur, because the Asian markets are well aware that we are unlikely to buy fur from domestic pets.
Ms Verna Simpson, HSI Director said “I am sure you find it as intolerable as we do that your new fur coat or collar could contain fur from someone's beloved pet! The safest policy for shoppers is to avoid buying any fur products at all.” Ms Simpson continues “Providing a comprehensive list of ethical retailers on our website will help customers choose where to shop, and prevent them from unknowingly buying into such a cruel trade.”
Not only does fur from Asia represent the intolerable abuse of millions of animals, but it also carries major health risks. Independent scientific tests undertaken last year on fur purchased from Australian retailers tested positive for hexavalent chromium, a toxic and carcinogenic chemical. Hexavalent chromium, used in the leather tanning process, can cause severe health impacts in humans and, in the fur we tested, the chemical exceeded recommended levels in leather goods by an alarming 133 to 733 times.
Many Australian stores have already refused to stock real fur after learning of the horrific animal suffering involved in fur production, and also to avoid the risk of breaching the law. HSI will be adding the names of every store who signs our Fur Free Pledge to a list of ethical retailers which will be proudly displayed on our website at http://www.hsi.org.au/. HSI is calling on all Australian consumers to stop buying fur, and ultimately we hope to end this abominable trade together, once and for all.
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