Melissa Kent June 03, 2012
Buyer beware … a model wears a faux fur vest. Photo: AP
CONSUMERS rugging up in this season's faux fur designs could unwittingly be wearing dog fur.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has stepped up surveillance of imported fur shipments following concerns that clothes containing illegal dog fur are escaping detection.
A sting operation by the Humane Society International in Sydney and Melbourne found six items labelled synthetic or rabbit fur actually contained illegally imported dog fur. They included fur-trimmed vests, scarves and a child's bag.
The director of the society, Verna Simpson, said it was often cheaper for Asian manufacturers to use dog fur rather than synthetic or other animal fur, which they then sold to unwitting retailers.
''The Asian markets are aware we are not likely to buy domestic pet fur, so it may be labelled rabbit, specify no species at all, or even labelled faux fur,'' she said.
''Our message is don't buy fur out of Asia because you really don't know what you're buying.''
Customs and Border Protection has increased sampling of fur clothing over winter and has also written to major fur importers reminding them that dog fur cannot be brought into Australia and that measures must be in place to prevent it being used in the products they import.
Ms Simpson said the federal government had failed to enforce labelling laws to specify species of origin, making it ''impossible to know whether the product contains fur from a domestic cat or dog''.
Animal rights groups say 10 million dogs and cats are killed for their fur each year, mainly in China, Thailand, the Philippines and Korea. Most are purpose-bred but there is evidence pets are being kidnapped for their fur and animals are being skinned alive to preserve the pelts.
Ms Simpson said although most major retail fashion outlets had stopped using animal fur, many smaller boutiques and designer labels continued to use it.