Welcome to Dog Tales, a series where author and animal advocate Rob Laidlaw shares stories and facts from his travels and work in dog advocacy.
According to the Humane Society International an estimated 2 million dogs and cats are killed for their fur every year. While the trade in dog fur is mostly in Asia, it seems to be growing in Russia and Eastern Europe as well.
After the dogs and cats are killed and their skins are dried, their fur may be dyed so it doesn’t look like your neighbourhood companion animal, and then mislabeled as rabbit, Asian wolf, fox or mountain cat. If it goes to buyers in other parts of the world, they may not have any idea they’re receiving the fur of dogs and cats, some of them former pets.
A few years ago, dog and cat fur trim was discovered on garments in the United States. That led to the government passing the Dog and Cat Protection Act, which banned the importation of dog and cat fur. A number of European countries, such as Belgium, Denmark, France and Italy, have also instituted bans.
In some countries however, the dog and cat fur industry is alive and well. According to the Bulgarian SPCA in 2006, there was at that time a massive industry based on the killing of dogs. Another group said almost 10,000 dogs were collected and killed in the City of Sofia every year, some of them shipped straight to fur factories from the dog pounds.
Dogs used in the fur trade may be picked up as strays, obtained from pounds, or bred specifically for fur. They may even be stolen pets.
Stopping the dog and cat fur industry is going to require a combination of education to change attitudes and new laws that prohibit the production, sale and trade of fur from companion animals. Animal welfare groups in many nations are hard at work trying to achieve both. I’m optimistic that one day, possibly soon, we’ll see a time when the only dog and cat fur we encounter is on a live, happy dog or cat.