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EU bans sale and import of cat and dog fur
Brussels, Belgium

EUROPEAN UNION governments last week unanimously supported a proposal to ban the sale, import and production of dog and cat fur in the 27-nation bloc, responding to public calls to outlaw a practice many consider unethical.

EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said he hoped the ban could be adopted by the end of June, after the European Parliament also gives its consent to the measure.

Fifteen EU nations already have individual cat and dog fur bans in place, but an EU-wide ban is expected to bring clear guidelines for all member nations. The Commission has said cat and dog fur can be found in some clothing, personal accessories and soft toys for children being sold on the European market, either falsely labelled as another kind of fur, or hidden within the product.

“We responded to hundreds of thousands of European citizens who demanded action in this area,” Kyprianou said. “This product is being used without the consumers being informed. It goes against the wishes and morals of the European citizens. For them cats and dogs are pets.”

The Commission said that because of the trade’s secretive nature, it was hard to estimate how much dog and cat fur finds its way onto the market or pinpoint where it comes from.

A December 2005 investigation by the Australian animal-rights group Humane Society International, showed dog and cat fur production had taken place within the Czech Republic and other Eastern European states.

HSI estimates around two-million cats and dogs are killed for fur each year, with an estimated 5,400 cats and dogs killed in China each day.

Sale of cat and dog fur will only be allowed in the EU for ‘medical use’ under strict conditions and provided the animals are not bred and killed for fur, Kyprianou said.

However, in a separate move, the EU’s executive commission rejected appeals for an EU-wide ban on the import of seal fur products to force the closure of Canada’s annual seal hunt.

The EU head office said a 1983 EU law which imposes limited bans on the import of fur taken from young seal pups “provides adequate response” to concerns presented by the European Parliament.

The EU assembly voted last year demanding the European Commission introduce a total ban on seal products in protest of what EU lawmakers called cruel and inhumane hunting tactics used to kill seal pups for their skins, notably in Canada.

In an official response sent to the lawmakers, the commission said reports it had seen on inhumane hunting methods were “partly contradictory”.

However, it said the EU would take “all necessary steps to ascertain the use of humane hunting standards for seals, and if deemed appropriate, propose ... to take action” in wake of “the high level of public concerns” over the issue.