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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
New calls for fur trade ban
Cat toy made of dog fur
Scientific tests show this cuddly toy is made from dog fur

Animal pressure groups have reacted with shock to evidence seen by the BBC which suggests cats are being farmed for their skin in the European Union.

The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (Caft) said the report reinforced the case for a Europe-wide ban on the production and trade of cat and dog fur.

"We had not heard this before, but we are not surprised," said Caft's Pete Harris.

"It's a trade that horrifies most people, so there would be little or no opposition to such a ban."

The BBC's Tim Franks in Brussels watched a secretly-recorded video in which a salesman showed a buyer two different furs, produced from cats farmed in Belgium and from cats picked up on Belgian streets.

Italy ban

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

Cat and dog fur trade
Campaigners claim 2 million cats and dogs slaughtered every year
Main exporter: China
12 to 15 adult dogs needed to make a dog fur coat
Up to 24 cats needed for 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

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

The UK's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said it was "horrified" at the news, and called on the UK Government to take action.

"The European Commission has concluded that each member state must decide for itself on how to tackle this issue," said the head of the RSPCA's international and campaigns department, David Bowles.

"We would now call on the UK Government to go beyond its preferred approach of labelling goods, and opt instead for an outright ban on the import of cat and dog fur products."

A US ban is reported to have led the European market for the products to expand.

So far Italy is the only European country to have banned the trade.

Inhumane treatment

The UK Department of Trade and Industry said it was deeply concerned by the BBC report, but that it had no immediate plans to follow Italy's example.

MEP Struan Stevenson
Mr Stevenson has collected cat and dog fur products on sale in Europe

A spokeswoman said the case for more scientific testing of fur products to check for accurate labelling was being examined.

However, she added that policy was usually only made when there was a clear need, and that it was currently difficult to know how much cat and dog fur was reaching Britain.

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.

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
  • A cuddly toy cat made out of dog fur

Mr Struan said the treatment of animals in fur farms was often inhumane and that he had seen videos of Alsatian dogs being skinned alive.

The BBC's Tim Franks
"Cat and dog skins are appearing in the lining of boots and anoraks"

Coats tested for cat and dog fur
29 Feb 00  |  UK News
Naked fur protesters freed
24 Oct 02  |  Asia-Pacific

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