Page last updated at 01:15 GMT, Thursday, 1 January 2009

EU bans trade in dog and cat furs

Generic dog in cage
Dog and cat furs are used in some clothing and toys

The trade in cat and dog fur across Europe has been outlawed following a nine-year campaign by a Scottish MEP.

Tory MEP Struan Stevenson said he hoped the total ban on fur imports would put pressure on China to curb its slaughter of millions of cats and dogs.

Chinese cat and dog fur is often used in coats, boot and glove linings and stuffed toys.

The ban on the trade came into effect in all 27 EU members states at midnight.

More than two million cats and dogs are said to be killed for their skins in China every year.

Many shoppers buy goods made with the fur unknowingly, as exporters attach false labels.

Mr Stevenson, who started his high-profile campaign against the trade in 1999 with the support of Humane Society International, said the furs were even used to make cat and dog toys which parents bought for their children, not realising that real cats and dogs have been killed and skinned to make the products.

I'm delighted that this is finally the end, as far as Europe is concerned, of what is a barbaric trade
Struan Stevenson MEP

The EU ban follows similar legislation in the US and Australia, but China continues to trade cat and dog fur in domestic and overseas markets, with much of its output going to Russia.

Mr Stevenson said: "I'm delighted that this is finally the end, as far as Europe is concerned, of what is a barbaric trade.

"This ban is a huge victory for the innocent victims - the millions of cats and dogs in China and Asia who have now been saved from gruesome, unnecessary deaths simply to meet demand in the EU.

"My hope is that a Europe-wide ban together with the refusal of America and Australia to market such wares, can bring an absolute end to the killing of these animals for their skin.

"China must now follow suit if it genuinely wants to belong to the global family of civilised nations. I urge the Chinese authorities to ban this trade and in particular to close down the export of cat and dog skins to Russia."

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