SAN DIEGO—"Man's Best Friends Are Skinned Alive for Fur in China," read the posters, banners and pamphlets displaying bloody dogs and cats held in the hands of local animal rights groups outside the San Diego Convention Center.
Members of the animal rights group In Defense of Animals (IDA) were protesting last week pet cruelty in China. Their targets were attendees of the Global Pet Product Expo, the largest pet product wholesale trade show in the U.S.—a private event, not open to the public.
"Animals, including pets, are treated with terrible cruelty in China, and many Americans are outraged that the Chinese government is turning a blind eye to the brutal killing of dogs and cats while (Chinese) manufacturers are profiting off dog and cat products sold in the U.S.," said Bill Dyer, Regional Director of the Mill Valley, California-based IDA. "We are trying to expose attendees at the Pet Expo to the cruel trade in dog and cat fur taking place in China, and urge merchants not to trade in Chinese pet products until the country creates and enforces meaningful animal welfare regulations."
In their press release dated Mar. 24, IDA states that an undercover investigation of the Chinese fur industry revealed that dogs and cats are packed into wire cages stacked by the thousands on trucks, and transported to be killed for their pelts.
More footage shows their strangulation and electrocution. Investigators have witnessed and documented animals being skinned alive and thrown onto piles of other 'processed' animals. Some continue to live for up to 30 minutes after being skinned.
Items made from cat and dog fur are illegal in the U.S. Such items are thus often deliberately mislabeled with the name of another species, so many consumers are unaware that they are buying cat or dog fur.
The fur is made into clothes, fashion accessories and even dog and cat toys. U.S. law requires labeling of fur garments only if they are sold for $150 or more.
Dyer said that he once talked to an official at the Chinese embassy about this situation, and was told, "You have to be understanding and patient. China is still a developing country," to which Dyer replied, "China owns the world!"
Asked how people at the Pet Expo are responding to this information, Dyer said, "One woman said she will never buy anything made in China again. However the owner of a large pet store said that he didn't care. It's the bottom line that counts."