European lawmakers moved Tuesday to keep Fluffy and Fido out of clothing and stuffed kids' toys by prohibiting the trade in cat and dog fur after a voluntary ban was found to be ineffective.
The EU Commission estimated that 2 million cats and dogs are killed for their fur each year
European parliamentarians voted in favor of a proposed ban on the trade in cat and dog fur in the 27-nation bloc. If EU governments also decide to support the European Commission's proposal as expected, the import, export and sale of cat and dog fur, as well as any products containing their fur, will be banned from 2009.
"The placing on the market and the import and export ... of fur of cats and dogs and products containing fur shall be prohibited," according to the draft resolution.
The EU executive proposed the legislation after a public outcry when evidence showed cat and dog fur products were still being traded in the bloc despite a voluntary code of conduct prohibiting the practice.
The EU said dog fur was sold under other names
British Labor MEP Arlene McCarthy, who chairs the internal market and consumer protection committee, said many people unwittingly buy garments made with cat and dog fur due to improper labeling.
"The majority of cat and dog fur comes from China, where over 2 million dogs and cats are slaughtered each year for their furs and skins," she said. "At least 10 dogs are slaughtered to make a single coat -- more if puppies are used."
A 2005 study conducted by the Australian animal-rights group Humane Society International estimated that some 5,400 of the animals killed in China each day.
The European Commission said the animals' fur could be found on the European market in clothing, personal accessories and soft toys for children. The commission added that by forcing member states to test for the fur, the bloc would be able to put together a clearer picture of what products it is used in.
Matching international standards
Bans on trading in cat and dog fur are already in place in other countries
The parliament's support for the ban on dog and cat fur has left Green party parliamentarians hoping that similar bans could be introduced to protect other animals as well.
"This ban on the trade in cat and dog fur sets an important precedent and should pave the way for banning the trade in products from other animals on animal welfare grounds -- notably seal products," British Green euro-deputy Caroline Lucas said.
The parliamentarians cut out a proposed loophole that would have allowed the trade of cat and dog fur as long was it did not come from animals bred only for their fur.
"The EU is taking an important step towards ending the cruel and brutal way in which these animals are slaughtered for their fur," said Heide Rühle, a German Green party member of the EU Parliament. "It is high time that a ban on the trade in cat and dog fur was introduced in the EU, with other countries, like the US and Australia, having had bans in place for a number of years."
Fur trade group welcomes the decision
The vote does not outlaw all fur trade
The International Fur Trade Federation, an industry association whose members already have a voluntary ban in place, also welcomed the parliament's decision.
"We hope it will be positive for the legitimate fur trade and complement the voluntary ban on cat and dog furs we have been operating for the last five years," it said.