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Tuesday, 29 February, 2000, 16:55 GMT
Coats tested for cat and dog fur

Some Chinese fur factories produce cat and dog pelts
Fur coats bought from a major UK store are being DNA tested amid concern they may come from slaughtered cats and dogs.

The tests are part of an international investigation into the killing of millions of domestic animals in Asia for the fur market.

UK animal welfare charity the RSPCA said three garments were being tested, but would not give details of the store involved until after the tests were completed.

This investigation uncovered one of the dirty secrets behind the global fur industry

Dr John Grandy
The RSPCA has been working with the Humane Society of the United States, whose undercover investigators in Asia filmed dogs and cats being stabbed, beaten and throttled to death before being skinned.

They reported seeing some animals still breathing as their pelts were removed.

Dogs were filmed cowering in dark, cold, insanitary rooms, surrounded by the bodies of dead dogs suspended from hooks after being skinned, while dozens of cats were seen being strangled with nooses one by one in a small wooden cage.

Campaigners estimate the annual death toll at more than two million, including animals reared in breeding farms, strays rounded up from the streets and even kidnapped family pets.

Many of the furs are exported from countries like China, Thailand, Korea and the Philippines to Europe, where they are frequently sold under false labels, said the RSPCA.

The import and sale of cat and dog furs is not illegal in the UK or other European Union states, but traders use false labels to avoid alerting customers to the reality of what they are buying, said the campaigners.

Significant imports

Labour MP Nick Palmer, who is supporting the campaign to stop the sale of cat and dog fur in the UK, said: "We are challenging the retail trade to make sure that this is not happening in Britain, because otherwise people will start boycotting their products."

Investigators found significant levels of imports of dog and cat fur to Germany, Italy and France, with thousands of skins imported from the Far East for coats, hats, gloves, waistcoats and boot linings.

Dr John Grandy, of HSUS, said: "This two-year investigation uncovered one of the dirty secrets behind the global fur industry.

"The fact that up to two million dogs and cats can be killed a year and people in Europe and America feed that market would shock most consumers.

"It's only by bringing this to their attention that we can cut the trade off at source by ending the market for cat and dog fur."

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29 Feb 00 |  Talking Point
Is fur fashionable again?
17 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Government to end fur farming
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