Illegal dog fur products being sold in Australia
May 12, 2011
Recent investigations over the past few weeks by Humane Society International (HSI) have uncovered several clothing retail outlets, including major national department stores, selling items containing dog fur.
' Despite bans on the importation of cat and dog fur pelts and products being implemented back in 2004, following a campaign by HSI, seven years later it would appear that these items have once again infiltrated our borders, and have ended up in Australian stores.' said HSI Director Verna Simpson.
Following the discovery in February of dog fur in a vest being sold by Wittners, a major national retailer, subsequent investigations and scientific analysis of fur items being sold in other stores around Australia have also tested positive for dog fur; despite being mislabelled as rabbit fur and, in some cases, raccoon fur. HSI was instrumental in lobbying the previous Coalition Government to impose a ban on the importation of dog and cat fur back in 2004, which saw the Government pass amendments to the Customs Import Regulations. We have also continued to call for changes to labelling laws that would ensure that all fur products are labelled with the species and country of origin so that consumers, and retailers, are not mislead in the future.
' We see the retailers as victims in this deception, as at no point do they think they are buying dog or cat fur. Most retailers are horrified when they are told they are selling dog fur. When Myer was alerted to the fact one of their designers had dog fur, they immediately withdrew the product, with independent tests currently being conducted. They are now adding their weight to our campaign to strengthen the legislation banning dog and cat fur imports into Australia, calling for mandatory species labelling.Clearly, there are weaknesses in stopping these products at the border and we are calling on Customs to move quickly to stop these illegal items are slipping into the country,' Ms Simpson said.
Despite reporting the results of our investigation to Customs, HSI is extremely disappointed at the slow response and apparent lack of action to have these items removed from sale and the matter investigated, and has written to the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O' Conner, asking that he intervene.Unfortunately, not all retailers took the swift action that Myer has and now we are relying on customs to enforce the legislation.
Myer Management are currently in Shanghai meeting with over 60 suppliers. They are reiterating their Sale of Fur policy to all suppliers and advising that breaches of the policy will not be tolerated.
' The public response to this issue in the past has been overwhelming, attracting by far the largest outcry of all the animal causes HSI has ever championed,' said Ms Simpson. ' Australian consumers certainly don' t want to buy dog and cat fur products and most Australian retailers do not want to be at risk of selling it. It is vital that the Minister intervenes and ensures the gaps allowing these illegal products onto the Australian market are closed immediately, and tighter labelling laws, to protect both consumers and retailers, are enacted as soon as possible.'
HSI has images of the fur vests and are available upon request.
- The death toll is conservatively estimated to be in the range of two million dogs and cats killed annually for their fur. Usually, 10 to 12 dogs and 24 cats are killed to manufacture one coat - more if puppies or kittens are used.
- The public response to our 2003 investigation was overwhelming, attracting by far the biggest outcry of all the animal causes HSI has ever championed. Australian consumers certainly don' t want to buy dog and cat fur and most Australian retailers do not want to be at risk of selling it. The then Minister for Customs received an unprecedented 10,000 direct representations on the issue and over 100,000 Australians signed the petition to the Prime Minister, one of the largest petitions ever to the Australian Parliament.
- The fur industry deliberately misleads consumers about product composition. A dog product may be sold as Gae-wolf, Sobaki, Raccoon and Asian Jackal among many others. Cat products are often sold as Wildcat, Goyangi and Katzenfelle to name only a few.