Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Cruella De Vil" Revisited

Soxs relaxing!
Today’s blog story was inspired by a friend who purchased a plastic cat figurine thinking that the attached “cat fur” was made of synthetic material.  Turned out it was not fake fur, but real cat fur.  Our friend, who is a huge cat lover, was devastated to learn that she purchased a figurine, made in China, that contained fur from an animal that she loves dearly— a white domestic cat.  She wanted to share her experience with others so no one else would not inadvertently purchase items made of dog or cat fur.

The following information provided (in part) was written by Jean C. Yasuhara, Cruella De Vil Revisited: The International Dog and Cat Fur Trade, 22 Loy. L.A. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 403 (2000) and gives a good foundation of this type of fur trade.

Even though this article was written twelve years ago, we are sad to report that dogs and cats are still used in the illegal cat and fur trade—right here in the United States.  There are no graphic pictures or detailed information in this blog posting as we did not want to upset families reading this article; we simply want folks to know, without the added shock value that pictures may present, about  this horrible practice so that we can all do our part to put these people who trade in dog and cat fur out of business—permanently!


Children, both in the United States and worldwide, love Walt Disney movies, which always end "happily ever after." One such film is 101 Dalmatians, an animated classic that tells the story of an evil woman named Cruella De Vii who wants to use the fur of cute Dalmatian puppies to make a coat for herself.1 She hires henchmen to steal the puppies from their owners in the city with the intent to butcher the frightened animals for their soft, spotted fur.2  In the end, the puppies are saved from gruesome deaths and return to a loving home.3

The film's plot is based on the assumption that most people cherish their animal companions and would be horrified to learn that anyone would consider wearing a pet as a fur coat. Perhaps this explains why Cruella De Vii is so villainous -she showed no emotion for the puppies-her ultimate goal was to skin them.4

Her barbaric scheme seems unbelievable. Moviegoers are relieved when Cruella De Vii fails because most can relate to the Dalmatians' owners, who celebrate their pets' return. Viewers find comfort in the fact that Cruella is a fictional character; most could not imagine that she is alive and well today. Although fictional, this Disney film resembles reality in various ways.

In reality, some believe Cruella De Vil's cold mentality and heartlessness lives on in the current international dog and cat fur trade. The issue came to the U.S. public's attention in late 1998, when the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released the results of an intensive investigation concerning the international dog and cat fur trade conducted by nine agents over the course of eighteen months.5 Although the investigation concentrated on China, Thailand, and the investigation concentrated on China, Thailand, and the Philippines,6 the global ramifications of dog and cat fur trade practices surfaced when Burlington Coat Factory, a nationwide retail chain, unknowingly sold men's jackets with dog-fur trim.7

In the Burlington scandal, stores sold approximately one hundred dog-fur jackets to consumers before pulling the remaining inventory from stores immediately after HSUS informed the company of the fur's actual source.8 Burlington executives told CNN that they believed the fur was from coyotes when Burlington purchased the coats from its vendor.9 In reality, no one at Burlington bothered to check the jackets' labels, which claimed that the fur was "Mongolian Dog Fur."10 AG-GEN Labs in Davis, California, conducted DNA tests on a sample of the fur trim to scientifically confirm the HSUS investigators' belief that the coats were made with domestic dog fur.11 The news of the dog-fur jackets upset the public and hurt Burlington's reputation as a retail outfitter.12

In less notorious instances, items made from dog or cat fur sell cheaply in discount outlets and small dealers' kiosks.13 In San Diego, California, for example, swap meet visitors noted that some small cat figurine toys seemed very realistic; the San Diego Humane Society also noticed the similarity.14 A concerned citizen complained that the items did not seem like rabbit fur, as the vendors claimed, because of the distinct coloration of the cat fur.15 After an  investigation, law enforcement cited vendors Mario James and Tran Hung for violating state laws prohibiting the possession or sale of cat or dog pelts.16 Unfortunately for the unwitting public, Mr. James disclosed that he bought the cat figurines from a business in Los Angeles and sold over one hundred of them at the swap meet over a three-month period.17

Although seemingly hypocritical, many U.S. citizens do not take issue with using certain animals (e.g., cows, pigs, sheep, etc.) for food or materials. Also, many subscribe to cultural beliefs when accepting the use of certain fur-bearing animals (e.g., foxes, mink, etc.) for glamorized, high-priced fur coats.22 Although recent anti-dog and cat fur legislation 23 represents a timely response to the global situation, and certainly deserves commendation, the reasons underlying the demand for fur remain unaddressed.

The economic theory of supply and demand for fur products in general explains the dog and cat fur trade's success.24 Until society views all fur commodities as products of animal cruelty and with the same abhorrence it projects towards dog and cat fur items, countries like China will have economic incentive to provide the sought-after fur in the most profitable manner. Dogs and cats will continue to be slaughtered for their fur as long as people in the United States and other nations desire fur items.

For the complete text, please click HERE.  There is graphic content found at this link.

Keep in mind, it is illegal in the United States to import, export, distribute, transport, manufacture or sell products containing dog or cat fur in the United States. As of November 9, 2000, the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 calls for the seizure and forfeiture of each item containing dog or cat fur.

The Act provides that any person who violates any provision may be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each separate knowing and intentional violation, $5,000 for each separate gross negligent violation, or $3,000 for each separate negligent violation.

International laws are diverse in strength, but some are much stronger than U.S. federal and state laws. China has virtually no regulations to protect fur animals. However, a few countries have strictly regulated or completely banned fur farms. Italy, France, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland and Australia banned this trade and over 60 countries have banned certain types of traps, and some countries have labeling laws.

Despite the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, illegal products containing dog or cat fur still makes its way into the US.  Following a two-year investigation, The Humane Society of the United States [revealed] that a New York City business, Unique Product Enterprises, advertised and sold numerous products containing “dog fur” in apparent violation of federal law.

The HSUS referred the matter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which opened its own investigation that resulted in the removal of advertisements for the products from the company’s website.”

To read the July 18, 2012 HSUS Investigation into the illegal use of dog fur in apparel and other items, click HERE.

While the majority of our blog postings are upbeat and inspirational, we felt a duty to share this information with you so you can make educated decisions on whether or not to purchase items made with dog or cat fur. We hope you found this information helpful and look forward to any feedback you’d like to share with our readers.

Article References

1. See 101 DALMATIANS (Walt Disney Studios 1961).

2. See id.

3. See id.

4. See id.

5. See Domestic Pets Slaughtered for Fur (last modified Dec. 15, 1998)

6. See id.

7. See Burlington Coat Factory Says It Was Misled by Garment Supplier (last

modified Dec. 15, 1998) <>.

8. See Melanie Burney, Burlington Coat Factory Pulls Dog-Fur Parkas from Stores,

BOSTON GLOBE, Dec. 16, 1998, at C5 (stating that the coats were made of fur from dogs

slaughtered in China).

9. See Burlington Coat Factory Says It Was Misled by Garment Supplier, supra note

10. Dateline NBC: Victims of Fashion (NBC television broadcast, Dec. 15, 1998)

(transcript on file with the Loyola of Los Angeles International & Comparative Law

Review) (explaining that Burlington bought the parkas from Acme International, an

importer, who purchased the parkas from a Chinese supplier).

11. See id.

12. See Burlington Coat Factory Says It Was Misled by Garment Supplier, supra note 7

(noting that shares of Burlington stock closed down 13/16 on December 15, 1998).

13. See David Nitkin, Fur Shame; Humane Society Alerts Public to Use of Dog and

Cat Pelts, SUN-SENTINEL (Ft. Lauderdale), Feb. 27, 1999, available in LEXIS, News

Library, Curnws File. See also HSUS Undercover Investigation Determines American

Retailers Are Selling Dog and Cat Fur Products, HSUS NEWS RELEASE, Dec. 13, 1999 (on

file with the Loyola of Los Angeles International & Comparative Law Review) [hereinafter

HSUS Undercover Investigation] (mentioning that the figurines, manufactured primarily

by Shangdong Heze Prefecture Import and Export Corporation in China, sell for twentyfive

to thirty-five U.S. dollars).

[Vol. 22:403

International Dog and Cat Fur Trade

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for not posting the graphic pictures, and for posting the warnings. I am aware of the trade, and I do what I can to stop it from happening, and frankly I would be traumatized.