Is Dog and Cat Fur Being Used in Coats?

ByABC News
January 23, 2006, 2:07 PM

Jan. 24, 2006 — -- Instead of lounging around the family home, some cats and dogs in Europe and Russia have been showing up around jacket collars and in coats, according to a Humane Society investigation.

The group's undercover investigation concluded that the business of killing cats and dogs for fur is thriving in the Czech Republic and other Eastern European countries. This comes as a direct reaction to thriving fur sales and a noted market shift since the U.S. banned the import of domestic pet fur, experts say.

"We have at the doorsteps of the European Union positive proof that this business is not just an Asian issue anymore," said Richard Swain, a Humane Society vice president and investigator.

Swain estimates that more than 2 million dogs and cats are slaughtered every year for their coats, with most pelts coming from Asia. And because they are extremely difficult to identify, most shoppers don't usually know that the fur trim on hats, coats or boots have been made with dog and cat fur.

Only DNA testing can reveal the true identity of a fur, Swain said.

At least one industry group was skeptical of the report, however.

"Members of the BFTA along with members of the European Fur Federation do not handle or offer for sale domestic cat and dog skins," said Andrea Martin, a spokeswoman for the British Fur Trade Association.

She said the British government has no evidence of cat and dog pelts being imported into the U.K. and insisted the fur trade is tightly regulated.

"As an industry, we are against any form of animal cruelty," the British Fur Trade Association said in a statement.

Video from the Humane Society investigation showed cat skins and some dog skins hanging at one Czech warehouse. The factory worker said in the video that most of the skins were taken from animals locally, with others coming from China.

The fur comes mostly from strays and captured pets. Bigger dogs like German shepherds and golden retrievers have the most cache, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.