Vancouver non-profit calls for ban on all
dog and cat fur imports from China
BY LARISSA CAHUTE, THE PROVINCE MARCH 8, 2016
A Vancouver-based not-for-profit is calling on all animal lovers to help in its bid to ban Canada’s import of dog and cat fur pelts.
According to Lesley Fox of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, countries like China, Taiwan and the Philippines not only eat dog and cat, but use the fur for trim on coats, trinkets and toys — which make their way through customs and into Canada.
“They’re manufactured overseas and then they’re sent all over the world,” said Fox.
The products can easily be purchased online — the association even tested it out and shipped a cat fur coat to its West Broadway office.
Australia, the European Union and the United States have already put bans in place, according to Fox.
“Canada has nothing,” she said, adding that the U.S. issued its ban in 2000. “We’re 16 years behind the ball here.”
The association started an online petition demanding the government “ban the importation of any dog and cat pelts or furs, and prohibit the sale of said products in Canada.”
“British Columbia is a province of animal lovers and we know people care,” said Fox.
“(We need) a symbolic ban that sends a really strong message to our trading partners what the values of Canadians are — that we are not interested in purchasing dog and cat fur.”
An online petition — sponsored by Vancouver Kingsway NDP MP Don Davies and supported by the B.C. SPCA — launched in January and has drawn more than 12,500 signatures.
Fox’s group has been lobbying the government since the early 1990s, and she said the former Harper government was “a big obstacle.”
“(They) had no interest in doing it mainly because they saw it as a trade barrier,” Fox said.
But the association is encouraged with the new Liberal government and is hoping to raise more awareness.
“Most people have no idea the dog and cat fur trade exists,” said Fox. “It’s very similar to trophy hunting ... it’s really important for people to know.”
What makes the issue more complicated, according to Fox, is that Canada doesn’t have strict regulations when it comes to labelling fur.
According to enforcement guidelines listed in the Competition Bureau’s Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations, animal hair, fibre or fur can be disclosed by simply listing “fur fibre.”
“You don’t know what you’re getting,” said Fox. “We’ve found fur being sold as fake, but it’s actually real.”
For example, Canada Goose, known for its popular goose-down parkas, alleged in 2010 that cheap knock-offs of its brand were using German shepherd fur, and Vancouver’s Kit and Ace came under fire in November for using Asiatic raccoon fur after some argued the animal was a member of the dog family.
While Davies is sponsoring the online petition, he’s also calling for stricter regulations for labelling.
“There’s a basic consumer protection issue here,” said Davies. “The idea of these animals being used in commercial products and treated in such inhumane and brutal ways would quite rightly upset most Canadians.”
While Davies expects the petition to move forward as a private member’s bill by June, he’s hoping the Trudeau government won’t wait for it and instead act immediately.