When people buy leather, the usually expect it to be made out of cow or pig. This is because, as a Western society, these are animals that we know are used for things like food and clothing.
However, people who decide to purchase leather may actually be buying clothes made out of dog or cat skin, according to an undercover investigation conducted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).
Dog And Cat Skin Being Sold In The United States
Although the sale and importation of cat and dog skin has been banned in the U.S. since the year 2000 (under the Dog and Cat Protection Act), many believe that it is being “disguised” as traditional leather.
The controversy surrounding this new information reach its peak when an undercover investigator working for Peta Asia found that dogs were being slaughtered and used for leather production in China. According to Peta, the investigator found that approximately 100-200 dogs were killed every day in slaughterhouses and being imported to the U.S. for use in leather products.
According to a report conducted by the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. imports approximately $8.5 billion worth of leather from China every year. Although importing dog and cat leather into the U.S. is punishable by fines of up to $10,000, being able to distinguish cat and dog leather from cow and pig leather is nearly impossible. The makes the chances of cat and dog leather being sold in U.S. stores to unknowing customers very likely.
After information about Peta’s investigation began gaining popularity, U.S. representatives Alcee Hastings, Dina Titus and Steve Cohen sent a letter to the Customs and Border Protection commissioner, R Gil Kerlikowske, demanding better regulation for the importation of leather.
“In American culture, dogs are cherished pets and are considered a member of the family,” the letter stated. “Accordingly, Americans would not want to hold their four-legged companion’s leash with a dog-skin glove.”
Peter Li, a China policy specialist and consultant for Humane Society International, responded to the various accusations by claiming that dog skin/fur producing facilities are rare in China. Instead, he claims that the dog leather trade is a byproduct of the dog meat trade, since killing dogs for meat is not illegal in China.
“Dog leather or dog fur use in garments or other products are not that common in China. While there are a few sweatshops producing dog furs in different places, dog fur is largely a byproduct of dog meat trade,” Li said in an email. “When China outlaws dog eating and the dog meat trade, dog leather as a product shall be gone.”
In conclusion, since there is no real way to distinguish between dog/cat leather and cow/pig leather, to avoid purchasing skin made out of man’s best friend, you should probably avoid buying leather altogether. At the least, don’t buy leather that is made in China, or any other country with lax animal rights laws.
For more stories about animal welfare, click here.
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