China and other Asian countries have been known to use dog and cat fur for garments, taking the lives of up to two million dogs and cats a year. One horrific practice reported by the Humane Society of the United States involved the skinning alive an animal called the “raccoon dog.” A giant loophole in legislation allowed many of these garments to pass into the U.S.
Kudos to House Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) and the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus for another federal legislative victory before the year’s end, with the passage of the Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2010 (TFLA). The House introduced the bill (HR 2480) back in May of 2009, and passed HR 2480 July 28, 2010. The bill passed in the Senate by unanimous consent earlier this month, and President Obama signed the bill into law on December 18, 2010.
There has been federal legislation targeting fur labeling on the books since at least 1951, when the Fur Products Labeling Act (currently 15 U.S.C. 69) was passed. However, the law contained a loophole that did not require labeling of the origin of fur on garments if the value of the fur was $150 or less.
That loophole meant that a coat with fur trim on just the sleeves would need no labeling at all if the cost of the fur was $150 or less. Not even labeling to tell the consumer whether the fur was real or faux. Or what kind of animal the fur came from. Or if the fur came from companion animals. According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, that loophole allowed 13% of fur items in the U.S. to go without labeling.
The TFLA has now closed that loophole, requiring labeling on all imported fur garments. Garments will need to list the species of animal that the fur comes from, the country of origin, and other information.
What is missing in this legislation? The outright ban of the use of fur from a companion animal. Or any animal, for that matter. HSUS estimates that the fur industry takes the life of 50 million animals a year. If you would like to shop with fur-free retailers and designers, check out this list on HSUS’s site.
I am proud to say that Virginia is ahead of the curve here. Thanks to Virginia Code Section 3.2-6589, it is unlawful to sell a garment with hide, fur or pelt from a domestic dog or cat. Violations of Virginia’s law carry a fine of up to $10,000.