De Rossa pressing for ban on cat and dog fur trade
31 August 2006
The European Commission has confirmed to Irish MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, that Ireland has no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur and that it is currently not mandatory here to label products containing such fur. Mr De Rossa is pressing for an EU ban on the cruel trade.
The information was presented earlier this month in a Commission reply to questions tabled in the European Parliament by Mr De Rossa. The full text of the questions and answers appear below.
European Parliament Q&A
Written Question E-2762/06
by Proinsias De Rossa (PSE) to the Commission
Subject: Commission's request for data from Member States on cat and dog fur
Could the Commission indicate which Member States have now responded to the Commission's request of June 2005 for data about the trade in cat and dog fur and the use of these furs? What was the deadline suggested by the Commission for responses?
What response did the Commission receive from Ireland?
Which Member States have yet to reply to the Commission's request for information on their legislation on the trade in, or imports of, cat and dog furs?
Is the Commission considering a proposal to harmonise legislation on the keeping of cats and dogs for fur production?
Written Question E-2778/06
Answer given by Mr. Kyprianou on behalf of the Commission (2nd August, 2006)
The Honourable Member asks a number of questions about a possible ban on cat and dog fur trade or imports.
A first letter to the Chief Veterinary Officers asking questions on national bans on cat and dog fur trade, their enforcement, data about the trade and analytical methods was sent in 2005. A second letter asking for further clarification was sent on 21 April 2006.
Up to 27 June 2006 (deadline suggested was 15 May 2006), the following Member States had replied to the Commission's second letter: Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Ireland reported to the Commission that there is currently no legislation banning the trade in cat and dog fur. Neither is there any national legislation making it mandatory to label cat and dog fur products. Furthermore it was reported that no data at present exists in Ireland about the amount of trade of cat and dog fur, or the import of cat and dog fur, and the Irish authorities are currently not aware of specific analytical methods to distinguish cat and dog fur from the fur of other animals.
Up to 27 June 2006, the following six Member States had yet to reply to the second letter: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Malta and Slovakia.
The Commission has confirmed that the political will to tackle this problem exists, and that the Commission is working to resolve a number of legal questions relating to the correct legal basis for a proposal and compatibility with the rules of the World Trade Organization. The Commission is in the process of examining the possibilities for action at Community level.
The Commission has to base its proposal on sound data, and to provide information on how the necessary enforcement could work. Furthermore, the Commission has been recently informed that in some Member States cat furs are traded and sold and in this respect footage from a non-governmental organisation (NGO) has been sent to the Commission showing the alleged trade in cat and dog fur in the European Union. The Commission considered that further information from the Member States was needed, hence the second letter of 21 April 2006 with clarification requested on further more specific aspects.
Cat and dog fur: More info
Millions of dogs and cats are killed annually for their fur. Investigators found stores of 50,000 to 100,000 pelts at factories in Asia. Usually 10 to 12 adult dogs are killed to manufacture each coat; even more if puppy fur is used. One cat fur coat requires the killing of up to 24 felines. Fur-covered figurines may contain the pieces of pelts of several animals, or may just be the pelt of one unlucky victim. The slaughter of these animals is violent and pitiless. Cats are strangled inside their cages as other cats look on. Dogs are noosed about the neck with metal wires, then slashed across the groin. The wire noose cuts into their throats as they struggle in pain before finally losing consciousness.
Dog and cat fur is marketed and sold to Europe and North America. Dogs and cats may be killed in one country and processed in another, and the finished products sold anywhere in the world. The primary use of dog and cat fur is not for full-length fur coats, but for fur-trim parkas, gloves, hats, toys, and other accessories. Fur-covered animal figurines also frequently use dog and cat fur—an estimated 20% of all the figurines made, in fact (the balance of fur comes from rabbits and goats).
This slaughter is so unconscionable that the industry has tried to obscure the truth with misleading labels. With rare exceptions, dog and cat products are not labelled as such. Dog-fur products have been sold as gae-wolf, goupee, Asian wolf, China wolf, Mongolia dog fur, Sobaki, Pommern wolf, dogue de Chine, and loup d'Asie. Cat fur has sold as rabbit, maopee, goyangi, katzenfelle, natuerliches mittel, chat de Chine, and gatto cinesi. In fact, fur manufacturers in China told HSUS investigators they would sew any label onto dog and cat garments to make them more marketable.
Please visit the Humane Society of the United States website for more information.
Update: EU Commission proposes ban on cat/dog fur
Irish MEP, Proinsias De Rossa, has forwarded to ICABS the following positive statement from the European Commission. If adopted, the Commission's proposal could mean an end to cat and dog fur in the coming year.
ICABS renews its appeal to the public to avoid buying items which contains any kind of fur. Fur from animals can be cheaper to produce compared to synthetic fur so please do not assume that fur on an inexpensive item is fake fur. If you have doubts, do not purchase it.
The European Commission Statement
The European Commission has today (20 November 2006) adopted a proposal to ban the import, export and sale of cat and dog fur in the EU. There is evidence that cat and dog fur is being placed on the European market, usually undeclared as such or disguised as synthetic and other types of fur. The vast majority of the cat and dog fur is believed to be imported from third countries, notably China where the rearing of these animals for this purpose is practiced. Many Member States have introduced their own specific legislation against cat and dog fur in response to the strong opposition of EU consumers to the trade of fur from these animals. However, as these national bans are divergent, they may cause disruption to the internal market. The proposed Regulation adopted today addresses EU citizens concerns and creates a harmonised approach, prohibiting all production, marketing and imports and exports of cat and dog fur in the EU. It also establishes a system of information exchange on the detection of cat and dog fur.
Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said: "The message that we have received from EU consumers has been loud and clear. They do not find it acceptable to farm cats and dogs for their fur, nor do they want products containing such fur sold on the European market. The EU ban we are proposing today will mean that consumers can rest assured that they are not inadvertently buying products containing cat or dog fur. In view of the broad political support for this measure I am confident that the European Parliament and the Council will ensure its adoption at the earliest opportunity."
Public and political concerns: Findings of cat and dog fur on the EU market have provoked a strong response from EU consumers, who have asked for measures to be taken to prevent such fur and fur products from being sold in the EU (through letters to the Commission and MEPs as well as through petitions). The Commission has been informed that such fur has been found not just on clothing but also on a number of personal accessories as well as children's soft-toys. There has also been great political demand to introduce an EU ban in this area. Both the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have officially asked the Commission to draft proposals on an EU ban on cat and dog fur, which would be more effective than national bans and help to restore consumer and retailer confidence. As there is no practice of cat and dog fur production in the EU, third country (especially Asian) imports are considered to be the origin of such fur. Therefore, a complete ban on the imports of cat and dog fur accompanied by a ban on intra-Community trade in such fur will assure consumers that it will no longer be sold in anywhere in the EU.
Harmonised approach: A number of Member States have responded to public concerns by introducing national legislation on cat and dog fur, and legislative initiatives are underway in response to public campaigns against companion pets being used for fur production. However, there are differences in the Member States' approaches, ranging from bans on the rearing and slaughter of cats and dogs to labelling requirements to restrictions on production and/or imports. These divergences may pose difficulties for consumers, retailers and traders who wish to carry out cross-border transactions in other types of fur. A uniform EU ban on marketing and trading in cat and dog fur will set out a clear-cut legal situation and a level playing field throughout the Community and remove unnecessary barriers within the internal market.
Tests and controls: Enforcing this ban on cat and dog fur will require good detection methods that can differentiate between cat and dog fur and other fur, even when the cat and dog fur is treated or dyed. Several Member States are already employing effective detection methods to check for cat and dog fur on their markets (e.g. Mass Spectrometry, DNA testing etc). The proposed Regulation states that Member States should regularly exchange information on detection methods for cat and dog fur, and share details of tests which are most efficient, so that fur imports and products on the market can be checked.
Next steps: The draft regulation will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers for adoption by the codecision procedure. For more information, see http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/index_en.htm