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Beware! China Leather Might Be Made Out of Dog or Cat Skin

Aug 16, 2016 08:24 AM EDT
Beware! China Leather Might Be Made Out of Dog or Cat Skin
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(Photo : Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Leather lovers need to be careful about that new jacket or pair of shoes because reports say they could easily have been made out of the world's favorite pets.

In a recent report from The Guardian, it was revealed that the U.S. imports about $8.5 billion of leather from China in 2014. Although the country doesn't allow the importation of leather made out of pets under the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, it's still very difficult to distinguish what animal the leather is made from once it's on store shelves.

The controversy over China using dogs and cats to produce leather spiked back in 2014 when an undercover investigator from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) found out about it. About 100 to 200 dogs were killed daily to meet the leather export demands to the U.S.

"The dog leather investigation we did, groups that are in the country with us really had no idea," Jason Baker, PETA Asia's vice-president of international operations, explained. "While [the investigations] shock people internationally, they also shock people in China."

China does not currently have animal welfare laws to protect the interests of dogs and cats. Peter Li, an associate professor of east Asian politics at the University of Houston-Downtown and a China policy specialist and consultant for Humane Society International, said that dog fur facilities aren't very common in China, but because killing dogs for their meat aren't illegal, the skin and fur may be used for other purposes.

The fight has reached Congress in the past few years, with U.S. representative Alcee L. Hastings sending a letter to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske to make sure dog leather does not get into the country. His proposal was to conduct random testing on China products to ensure their quality, a report from PETA revealed. Tennessee and Nevada representatives Steve Cohen and Dina Titus also joined Hastings in a second letter.

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