Fur Industry Shrugs off China videos
Some people who saw photos of dogs in southwest China being clubbed to death in front of their owners last month to
contain a rabies outbreak were not aghast.
That's because they had already seen a video about China's fur industry released by Care for the Wild International and
Swiss Animal Protection and aired by the BBC last year.
A video so gruesome--(www.animal-protection.net
)--it inspired an international boycott of Chinese products and Sir Paul McCartney to renounce performing in China.
Unfortunately, the expose didn't register so much as a hiccup in the industry.
Mink pelts were up 33% in April at the Renton, Washington auction, the largest fur market in the United States.
Bobcat pelts were fetching $300 a piece as emboldened trappers killed 1,500 cats in Utah last year. Prada, a clothier
that sells seal and pony fur, was a media darling. And the fur industry overall was up in 2005 for the seventh year in a
row, posting $12.77 billion in sales. Still the China video leaves fur industry officials with a conundrum. Do they
ignore the footage--the fatally skinned raccoon dog who had enough strength to lift his bloodied head and stare into the
camera, the workers cutting fur from an animal's leg while its free limbs kick and writhe--or try to spin it? Especially
since the Humane Society of the United States says what is often label "fox," "rabbit," and "Asian wolf" on Chinese
imports is actually dog and cat? (Who would buy a coat labeled "Made in China -- Labrador Retriever Skins?" asks John
Hanchette of the Niagra Falls Reporter 1) The International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) tries to spin it. "It is wrong
to portray all fur farming as the same in China," it says on its web site. "Foreign investment and technological
know-how are coming in, and so are Western standards. There are good fur farms in China that have similar standards to
Western farms." The important thing is to avoid the b word. "An import ban will not help to improve animal welfare on
fur farms in China. By cutting off the international market, the incentive to make changes is removed." (Isn't that
backwards?) The ever upbeat Fur Information Council of America--which this year debuts the use of fur as a verb: "Fur
your home" with "a fox fur throw and mink pillows for the bed or sofa, coupled with a bear rug for cozy nights in front
of the fire"--takes a different tack. "We have asked for verification of authenticity on these tapes," it says on its
web site "and have never received it. And, in fact, in a number of recent cases it has been proven that the footage was
staged in order to create these 'snuff films'. Remember that our industry is regulated at the local, state and national
levels. Our members follow strict guidelines for animal care that have been established with the guidance of the
American Veterinary Medical Association. If there is a farm where these conditions exist we hope it will be brought to
our attention so that we can work with the proper authorities in addressing the issue."
Why anyone, with all the existing animal cruelty, would have to add abuse to a video defies logic. But so does selling a
bloody and completely unnecessary product like fur in the first place.