Today the HSUS has filed a legal challenge to the mislabeling of fur.
Fur and faux fur actually are obtained from members of the dog family: racoon dogs (typically stomped, clubbed and skinned alive), wolves, and dogs. Items labeled as fake fur are often made of coyote fur, sometimes domestic cat fur.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said it purchased coats from reputable outlets, such as upscale Nordstrom, with designer labels — Andrew Marc, Tommy Hilfiger, for example — and found them trimmed with fur from domestic dogs, even though the fur was advertised as fake.
"It's an industrywide deception," said Kristin Leppert, the head of the Humane Society's anti-fur campaign.
The investigation began after the society got a tip from a consumer who bought a coat with trim labeled as faux fur that felt real. Leppert and her team began buying coats from popular retailers and then had the coats tested by mass spectrometry, which measures the mass and sequence of proteins, to determine what species of animal the fur came from.
Of the 25 coats tested, 24 were mislabeled or misadvertised.
Voices for Dogs points out the fur trade does not deny that it deals in dog and cat skins and it is quite legal for products made from this fur to be sold in Britain and Europe. Fur products do not have to be labelled by species. One cat fur coat alone requires the killing of up to 24 cats. 12 to 15 adult dogs are killed to manufacture each coat made from dog fur - and an horrific 40 or more if puppies or kittens are used.
This slaughter is so unconscionable that the industry has tried to obscure the truth with purposely misleading labels. Dog and cat products are rarely labeled as such. Many companies and individuals involved in the trade of dog and cat fur use fraudulent terms and deliberate mislabeling, or use made up names of creatures that dont exist such as Sobaki and Gaewolf. Or no name at all, or dyed in bright colours to appear to be "faux fur" or dyed to appear to be fur from other species to disguise the true identity of their products. As dog and cat fur is much cheaper it is sometimes labelled as 'fake' fur. In fact, fur manufacturers in China will sew any label onto dog and cat garments to make them more marketable - the importer of the fur garments or items usually chooses how the product is to be labelled and presumably will do so to reflect acceptability to the customer.
Fur trim on budget fashion items often are labeled fake rather than genuine. The likelihood is that it will be cat or dog because it's cheaper to use. Also, fox fur has become so cheap that it has replaced the artificial article. Most of the fur from foxes on fur farms is not used as coats but as fur trim. This indicates partly how the fur trade has managed to survive the dramatic drop in sales of fur coats, many people are not aware that the fur collar or glove linings are made of real fur which is obtained through the same atrocious process as fur coats.
The HSUS says the following retailers and designers have taken insufficient action to protect consumers and animals:
Lord & Taylor
Macy's (Federated Department Stores)
The following was taken from the web site of the Humane Society of the United States.
The HSUS Files Legal Challenge on Fur Labeling
In order to protect animals and consumers from widespread abuses in the apparel industry, The Humane Society of the United States filed a legal petition [PDF] with the Federal Trade Commission today seeking to enforce the Fur Products Labeling Act against 14 major retailers and designers concerning false advertising and false labeling of fur garments.
Of the fur-trimmed jackets HSUS tested by mass spectrometry, 96 percent were reported as deriving [PDF] from raccoon dog, domestic dog, or wolf, and 100 percent were either falsely advertised (some as faux), falsely labeled, not labeled at all, or had a combination of problems. One jacket was correctly labeled as coyote but was advertised as "faux."
Domestic dogs and raccoon dogs are killed in brutal ways for their fur in China. The raccoon dog is a wild member of the dog (Canidae) family with markings resembling those of a raccoon. They are known to be skinned alive for fur in China, where they are caged and killed in large numbers.
In response to the investigation, many retailers and designers took positive action to put customers and animals first, but a disappointing number did not.