Shocking news was released by Humane Society International tying the famous Australian Ugg boot company to the horrific animal cruelty in the fur trade.
An investigation by HSI found boot makers for Ugg Australia footwear were among a group of Australian manufacturers mislabeling products as wool when they were actually using the pelts of raccoon dogs, skinned alive in China.
“HSI Director Verna Simpson said the Ugg boots her organization tested were just one of dozens of products being imported into Australia using raccoon dog fur and in other cases canine dog fur which is banned in Australia.”
The animal rights group gathered a team which included an animal hair identification expert to test and analyze a wide range of clothing.
One pair of Ugg boots tested by HSI revealed they contained dog raccoon fur, but were labeled “Australian sheep skin.”
The tragic plight of raccoon dogs has been documented by animal rights groups, and activists have tried to ban the use of their fur. The animals are kept in extremely cruel conditions on farms in China. When they are ready to be harvested for their pelts, the dogs are severely beaten and then skinned alive.
Raccoon dogs are indigenous to East Asia and related to wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs.
Graphic video filmed by Swiss Animal Protection documented how the terrified animals are beaten with sticks and kicked in the head to keep them still while workers skin them and toss them into heaps to die.
HSI has asked both the Australian government and Ugg Australia for comments. A spokesperson for Home Affairs, Minister Brendan O’Connor told the animal rights group the government would not ban the import of raccoon dog fur. He explained Australia only bans the import of endangered animals and plants.
“Extending the ban to fur products from the Asiatic raccoon, or ‘raccoon dog’ is not Government policy at this time,” said O’Connor.
In the past Ugg Australia spokesperson Lena McDonald denounced the use of raccoon dog fur by other brands and said it tarnished the entire Ugg boot industry.
McDonald continued to defend her company’s product saying the boots tested by HSI were not official “Ugg” products. She said her company used its own local tannery to ensure the quality and standards of its boots. She added that at any time there were between 30-40 products using the word “ugg” but that many were not made in Australia and used overseas materials including fur.
“As far as I can see many of these boots are not made in Australia at all yet they have the word Australia and ugg on them,” she said.
Australia Customs and Border Protection expressed their concern about importing falsely labeled fur products. If they doubt the “authenticity of a product or documents,” they may require the importer to provide a sample for their own experts to test.
If that importer is found guilty, a penalty of $110,000 or three times the value of the goods could be given.
Photo from 49925114@NO via flickr