Despite efforts to stop it, Swiss animal advocates suspect the fur trade may be the cause of sad stories about cats disappearing.
A Swiss law designed to protect wildlife allows citizens to shoot feral and domestic cats that are more than 200 meters (656 feet) from their homes. While scientists believe free-roaming cats are responsible for killing millions of birds and other species annually, animal advocates believe the law is being used by some as an excuse to kill cats for their fur.
The fur is believed to be more than an accessory, as some claim that wearing it can cure rheumatoid arthritis – a belief borrowed from traditional Chinese medicine, although it has no scientific merit.
The advocacy group SOS Chats started an anti-cat fur campaign in 2007 after Tomi Tomek, one of the co-founders, used hidden cameras to expose 21 tanners around the country who were willing to illegally sell cat hides, reports The Verge. Tomek also discovered breeders who were selling cats for their pelts and blankets made from multiple cats that brought in more than $1,700 each.
Tomek told the New York Times in 2008 that one of the biggest obstacles to bringing attention to cat theft was that no one believed that it was going on until she obtained proof by posing as a buyer and brought the evidence to the media.
In 2007, the U.S. and the EU banned the sale of dog and cat fur, while Switzerland was grappling with the issue. In 2008, the country passed a ban on the sale and production of cat pelts following more undercover investigations by the French and Swiss media and growing public outrage. As the New York Times points out, even if they didn’t ban it they would have had to deal with the issue anyway that year because the country is bound by treaties that regulate trade.
More recently, cat advocates hoped that the Swiss Parliament’s debate over whether or not to ban the killing of all cats would end in their favor and save them, but last week MPs rejected the motion to outlaw cat hunting by a vote of 105 to 59.
According to The Local, supporters argued that hunting cats is cruel, potentially leaving cats only wounded, while also posing a threat to public safety, but the majority argued that changing the law and opting for alternatives, such as spay/neuter would be ineffective and costly to implement with an estimated 1.5 million stray cats.
Now cat advocates are hopeful that tougher penalties that were passed last month, which could result in fines of up to $20,000 for selling cat pelts, will be enough to help deter those in the business. The number of players has already reportedly declined, but the black market still appears to be alive and well.
Please sign and share the petition urging Switzerland’s lawmakers to reconsider their stand on cat hunting and ban it.
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