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July 18, 2012

Investigation by The HSUS Reveals Illegal Sale of Domestic Dog Fur in Apparel and Other Items

  • Pierre Grzybowski/The HSUS

  • Pierre Grzybowski/The HSUS

Following a two-year investigation, The Humane Society of the United States is revealing that a New York City business, Unique Product Enterprises, advertised and sold numerous products containing “dog fur” [PDF] 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.  

The Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 bans the import and interstate advertisement and sale of items made from dog or cat fur. Congress passed the law after a previous investigation by The HSUS in the late 1990s documented the sale of dog fur in the United States. Given the shocking nature of the current revelations that dog fur is apparently still being sold in the U.S., The HSUS is requesting that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York take action to enforce the Dog and Cat Protection Act and ensure that the company does not continue to advertise or sell dog fur.

The HSUS purchased four items—a blanket, a vest, a pair of gloves, and a belt—after receiving a tip from a member of the public about dog fur being advertised for sale. Independent laboratory analysis determined the fur contained in the products was “...consistent with having originated from a domestic dog....”

“Much of the domestic dog fur in the world market comes from China, where conditions are brutal—animals beaten, crammed into tiny cages, and even skinned alive,” said Pierre Grzybowski, policy and enforcement manager for The HSUS’s Fur-Free Campaign. “Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to designers, retailers and the public that dog fur is still entering the U.S. market.”

See video footage from our investigation »

The four tested items—and nine others—were advertised on the company’s website in both Russian and English, and several items were also advertised in Russian in a Russian-language magazine based and distributed in the New York City area, and in Russian on YouTube. One product contained a manufacturing label with Chinese characters indicating that the product was made by a company in Western China.

The HSUS expressed its thanks to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for conducting an investigation of the matter and taking action to enforce the federal law prohibiting the sale of dog and cat fur.

The HSUS urges designers, retailers and consumers to avoid all animal fur products.  Faux fur, when honestly labeled, is an acceptable and cruelty-free alternative and the only sure way to enjoy the fashion while still guaranteeing that dogs and cats are not being killed for their fur.

For a copy of the complete investigative report, including photos of the purchased items and online advertisements, please visit www.humanesociety.org/dogfur. Additional photos and b-roll are available upon request.

The Dog and Cat Fur Prohibition Act of 2000

Under federal law (19 USC Sec. 1308):  “It shall be unlawful for any person to – (A) import into, or export from, the United States any dog or cat fur product; or (B) introduce into interstate commerce, manufacture for introduction into interstate commerce, sell, trade, or advertise in interstate commerce, offer to sell, or transport or distribute in interstate commerce in the United States, any dog or cat fur product.” The law provides for penalties that include fines up to $10,000 per violation, and the law establishes a reward of no less than $500 for persons providing information that results in a penalty assessment or other enforcement action.

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Media contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463; ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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