China pledges to stop cat and dog fur trade

The animal cruelty video that makes Heather Mills McCartney cry has finally triggered a Chinese government pledge to stamp out the trade in cat and dog fur, it emerged today.

Miss Mills McCartney recently admitted that the horrific footage of cats and dogs being rounded up and skinned alive – to save the cost of humane killing - brings tears every time she sees it.

And she has watched it countless times while championing an end to the barbaric slaughter of millions of animals a year in China to service the European market in canine and feline fur.

Now Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson, who has worked closely with Miss Mills McCartney on the campaign, has been assured by senior Chinese government officials that they are just as horrified and will act to end the practice.

Mr Stevenson, in Beijing to push for action, showed the footage to State Forestry Administration Deputy Chairman Zhao Xuemin and his officials and said afterwards: “They were horrified by this evidence. I will now report to the European Commission that there will be no opposition in China to the proposed EU directive banning the import, export and trade in cat and dog skins across the EU.”

Mr Xuemin told Mr Stevenson that Chinese law prohibited the “barbarian practice” of skinning animals alive or any other kind of cruelty.

He also insisted that there was no tradition in China of wearing fur made from dogs and cats and that they were regarded as “friends and pets“.

But he also admitted to Mr Stevenson: “However, we cannot deny that incidents of cruelty do occur, such as those you have brought to our attention.

“Sadly this barbaric trade is driven by economic factors. But these cases you have mentioned have made a strong impression on us and we will make renewed efforts to stamp out these barbaric practices.”

Last January, after Lady McCartney had twice visited the European Parliament to demand EU action, European Commissioner Markos Kyprianou announced that Brussels was considering a ban on the cat and dog fur trade as part of a five-year plan to improve animal welfare.

Mr Stevenson said that decision was regarded in Beijing as helpful to China’s new pledge to eradicate the trade: “Commissioner Kyprianou can now proceed with all possible speed to get approval for an outright ban.”

The Commission said it was looking at a ban “for ethical reasons and in response to considerable public concerns“.

The Humane Society International helped exposed the business, revealing evidence of a thriving cat and dog fur trade in many European countries including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

An estimated two million cats and dogs are being killed each year in China to fuel the trade, which is not illegal in the EU.

DNA tests have shown that many rugs, coats and figurines on sale in shops in European countries are made from real cat and dog fur but are usually marketed as being made of fake fur.

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