The President late last week signed the “Truth in Fur Labeling Act,” legislation which would crack down on the illegal dog and cat fur trade. As the author of the bill, which was strongly supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), I’m proud to have played a role in finally closing a loophole in current law which has been exploited by exporters pawning off dog and cat fur as an artificial fiber in many garment lines sold in the U.S.
Many Americans choose not to purchase fur products, preferring instead “faux” fur as a substitute. If they had the proper information, the public would be outraged to learn their favorite hat or pair of gloves was lined with the fur of their favorite companion animal.
It is illegal to import, export, sell or advertise any domestic dog or cat fur in the United States. But half of all fur garments entering the U.S. 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. Because fur must be identified with a label only if the value of it exceeds $150, the system is being abused and the fur from companion animals – dogs and cats – has been entering the U.S. undetected. The legislation we enacted aims to protect consumers and animals by requiring all garments that include fur be labeled, regardless of value.
In recent years, HSUS investigators 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.
The “Truth in Fur Labeling Act” will once and for all close the loophole in the Fur Products Labeling Act of 1951 that 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 that until today has allowed multiple animal pelts to be used on a garment without a label.
In the waning days of 111th Congress, this is a substantial victory for animal protection advocates and something we can build on next year in the new Congress.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.