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Humane Holiday Shopping Guide

Published 09/15/04
Source: Animal Issues, Volume 35 Number 3, Fall 2004

Buyer Beware!

It’s shockingly easy for even the most well-intentioned shopper to purchase items containing fur in the mistaken belief that the fur is fake. Part of this confusion stems from a loophole in U.S. labeling law that prevents consumers from easily accessing product information.

In 2000, after an international investigation into the widespread slaughter of dogs and cats for the fur trade, Congress passed the Dog and Cat Protection Act, which made the import, export, transport, or sale of dog and cat fur illegal in the U.S. Unfortunately, the law left in place a pre-existing loophole. Only those fur items valued at more than $150 dollars have to be labeled as genuine fur and identify the species of origin. The result? Tremendous uncertainty in the marketplace, as it can be difficult even for retailers to differentiate real fur from faux.

The following tips can assist consumers who want to ensure that their purchases are indeed fur-free:

  • Fake fur feels coarse to the touch; genuine fur is soft.
  • Fake fur is made of hairs that appear to be the same length and color; real fur usually contains layers of hair of different lengths, shades, and textures.
  • Fake fur is mounted on a base that could easily be perforated by a pin; in finished products, genuine fur remains attached to the animal’s skin, which remains resistant.
  • Remember, even if fur is dyed bright colors, cut in unusual ways, or included on the most innocuous-seeming item, it may be “the real thing” — and the product of a really cruel industry!

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