When American consumers shop leather goods, it, probably, does not enter into their minds that their new belts, bags and shoes can be made from cows or pigs, but cats and dogs. But not only this opportunity, it’s difficult for consumers to know that they were sold.
Almost all the dog or cat’s skin comes from China. Now the changes in Chinese culture, more and more pressure from the US and upcoming trade agreements combine to undermine this contraband trade.
The United States banned the import of dog and cat fur and skin, which is punishable by a fine of up to $ 10,000, as part of the dogs and the law On the protection of cats 2000. But the difference is dogs and cats leather from cow, sheep and pig skin is not so easy, making it possible for unscrupulous manufacturers to give the skin in dogs, like skin from legal animals. The report of the congressional research service shows that in 2014, the US imported leather products from China 8.5 billion. It is unknown how much each year can be dog or cat skin.
The controversy surrounding the dog’s skin has reached new heights in 2014, when an investigator working undercover for people for the Ethical treatment of animals (peta) Asia found that dogs were killed for leather production in China. According to peta, which encourages American consumers to give up all leather products in favor of vegan substitutes, employees at the facility said that 100-200 dogs are killed here per day and confirmed that the skin was intended for export and sale in the U.S. market. The investigation has shed light on the underreported underbelly of animal husbandry in China, which currently has no comprehensive law On the protection of animals.
“Leather dog investigation we did, the groups that exist in the country we really had no idea,” said Jason Baker, Vice President of Peta Asia for international operations. “Although [research] to shock people at the international level, they also shock people in China.”
Footage of pet meat the dog has spurred interest in Congress. In December 2015, the democratic Congressman Alcee L. Hastings joined colleagues Dina Titus and Steve Cohen sent a letter to customs and border protection (CBP Commissioner), R USA Gil Kerlikowske providing for more effective regulation of import of leather to combat the use of dog skin.
“In American culture, dogs are cherished Pets and is considered a member of the family,” the letter reads. “Accordingly, Americans do not want to keep their four-legged companion leash with a dog-skin glove.”
Hastings, Titus and Cohen all have a good track record when it comes to animal welfare issues, and Titus and Hastings, in an interview, both separately described the video as “disturbing”; graphic undercover footage shot by Peta Asia investigator showed dogs crammed before throat was cut and the skin removed, sometimes seemingly still alive.
Despite the horrors of the Peta investigation, Peter Lee, associate Professor of East Asian politics at the University of Houston-downtown and China policy specialist, consultant, International society for the protection of animals, says that a dog’s fur facilities are few and far between in China. Lee said the dog leather trade depends on the dog meat trade, because killing dogs for meat is not illegal in China, by-products, including leather and wool, can be used for other purposes.
“Dog skin or dog fur are used in clothing or other products are not that common in China. Although there are a few potogonno production of fur of a dog in different places, dog fur is largely a by-product of the dog meat trade,” Lee said in the email. “When China outlaws eating a dog, and the dog meat trade, dog leather, as the product needs to be.”
The dog meat trade has become the focal point for conversation around the Chinese animals from local animal activists to save hundreds of dogs bound for the meat market and protest against dog consumption; Peta Asia has also focused its efforts on promoting veganism and vegetarianism in the country, and the consumption of dog meat is considered a decrease as the pet ownership boom.
China, though, which is the world’s largest leather and fur manufacturer, exporter and consumer, is not enough anti-animal cruelty laws, the animal protection movement is growing: China has ended mandatory animal testing of Domestic cosmetics in the year 2014, local bands were forced to castrate programs and Bloomberg news reported that in 2014 there were over 100 animal groups operating in the country. Baker, Peta, said that China was “where pet is shining, but this is also where the movement in the light”.
“China seems to be in the center of the movement for the protection of animals in East Asia … the momentum in China is more reliable than in Korea and Japan,” said Lee. But he added that the legislation of the government resistance to the protection of animals in China still because of economic problems. “Concern for the Chinese government is that such a law may force many Chinese firms out of business,” he said. “The Chinese authorities still obsessed with GDP growth and employment.”
And dog meat and skin trades continue so in the United States a new interest in preventing the importation of dog’s skin can help reduce their production, and the conditions of the new TRANS-Pacific partnership (TPP) trade deal in which China is not a member of the nation, can also have an impact. Although TPP is expected to deliver “substantial new access” to certain skin markets, it also includes chapters which, though criticized by some for not doing enough to protect farms and livestock, however, represents a significant step forward for the protection of animals and sustainability.
“I believe China will listen to concerns about dog skin export, if this issue was raised by foreign States, including the United States,” said Lee. “Consideration of animal welfare in PPE must alert the mainland Chinese authorities, which we treat animals as a problem of international trade as a domestic issue. This will force Chinese authorities to abandon the old thinking that animal welfare is used as a sales tool against Chinese exports.”
Furthermore, Titus, who worked last year us a letter to Congress, said that the propaganda campaign in the United States can be a powerful tool to help end the practice of dog furrier.
“Pets are part of people’s lives here and protection of animals is something that is very emotional and serious issue. I think this should be a challenge for animal lovers to put pressure on the customs [and border protection] Commissioner [R USA Gil Kerlikowske] to be sure that they will do everything possible to prevent this from happening, and I think it would be a public uproar about it,” said Titus. “Maybe [that Americans do not accidentally use the dog’s skin], and I think they would be horrified.”