This week I joined with Representative Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) to introduce legislation which would require honest labeling of all fur products sold in the United States.
With support from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the “Truth in Fur Labeling Act” would close a loophole which has allowed products to be sold in the U.S. valued at less than $150 that do not list the types of fur they are made from.
This fur loophole deprives American consumers of the facts needed to make an informed purchase. Many Americans choose not to purchase fur products, preferring instead “faux” fur as a substitute. Unfortunately, this loophole is being exploited by exporters, particularly those in China, who are pawning off dog and cat fur as an artificial fiber. Most people would be outraged to learn their favorite hat or pair of gloves was lined with the fur of their favorite companion animal.
Current law does make it illegal to import, export, sell or advertise any domestic dog or cat fur in the United States. Fur from other animals must be identified with a label. But if the garment or item is worth less than $150, these rules don’t apply.
The Moran-Bono Mack legislation would close this loophole once and for all. Originally included in the Fur Products Labeling Act of 1951, the law exempts garments with a “relatively small quantity or value” of fur from requiring labels disclosing the name of the species, the manufacturer, the country of origin and other pertinent information for consumers. The Federal Trade Commission defines that value today as $150-an amount large enough to allow multiple animal pelts on a garment without a label.
In recent years, HSUS investigators have found a proliferation of falsely labeled and falsely advertised dog fur on fashion clothing sold by some of the largest names in U.S. retailing. Of the fur-trimmed jackets subjected to mass spectrometry testing by HSUS, 96 percent were found to be domestic dog, wolf or raccoon dog, and either mislabeled or not labeled at all.
Half of all fur garments entering the United States come from China, where large numbers of domestic dogs and cats as well as raccoon dogs are killed every year for their fur by brutal methods, sometimes skinned alive. The Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000 banned the trade in dog and cat fur after an HSUS investigation revealed the death toll was two million animals a year and that domestic dog fur was being sold in the U.S. But even with this law in place, the $150 loophole remains in effect.
The “Truth in Fur Labeling Act” is currently being considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. We’re building up the list of cosponsors and are optimistic the committee will consider it soon.