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December 1, 2009

Lord & Taylor Bans Raccoon Dog Fur from U.S. Stores

The Humane Society of the United States

raccoon dog

Lilia Tkachenko

The Humane Society of the United States and retailer Lord & Taylor have reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed last year alleging that several of the nation's largest department stores and fashion designers have repeatedly engaged in false advertising and mislabeling of fur garments. Pursuant to the agreement, Lord & Taylor will end all use of raccoon dog fur (a canine species often skinned alive in China), and will reform its advertising and garment labeling practices so that shoppers are better informed about what kind of animal fur is present in fur-trimmed garments.

The agreement with Lord & Taylor comes a few months after a similar settlement was reached with fashion designer Andrew Marc. The litigation is proceeding against the three non-settling defendants: Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. The case is set to go to trial in 2010.

"Lord & Taylor has taken a major step forward by ending the sale of raccoon dog fur, and by voluntarily strengthening its labeling standards for all fur products," said Jonathan R. Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "Macy's, Saks and Neiman Marcus should join Lord & Taylor in honoring consumers' strong desire to keep cruel and inhumane products out of their shopping bags this holiday season."

During the past three years, The HSUS identified dozens of falsely advertised or falsely labeled fur garments across the retail industry. Raccoon dog is the most commonly misrepresented type of fur, often described as a different animal or even as "faux fur." In addition to being falsely advertised and mislabeled, raccoon dog fur jackets are also commonly not labeled at all — which is allowed by a loophole in the federal law, even if the fur has been dyed unnatural colors like green or pink.

The HSUS brought the lawsuit under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act alleging that the defendants are (1) advertising and labeling products as "faux fur," when they are, in fact, derived from real animal fur or (2) advertising and labeling products as common raccoon, fox or rabbit fur when they are, in fact, made from the wholly distinct species of raccoon dog — a member of the canine family. The complaint also alleges violations of the federal Fur Products Labeling Act and Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibit the false advertising and mislabeling of any fur product.

Since 2006, The HSUS has informed dozens of companies about fur labeling and advertising problems and urged them to take corrective action. The HSUS also filed two legal petitions with the Federal Trade Commission—one in March 2007 and the other in April 2008—seeking enforcement action and criminal and civil penalties against more than 20 companies for violations of the FPLA.

The HSUS urges Congress to pass the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (S. 1076/H.R. 2480), introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Reps. Jim Moran, D-Va., and Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., to require accurate and consistent labeling of fur-trimmed garments regardless of dollar value.

You can view the entire complaint [PDF], learn about raccoon dogs and their mistreatment, and more, on our website.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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