Dogs, cats, and seals

During my homeward commute yesterday, I heard Anita Neville interviewed on CBC Radio. She’s a Liberal MP from Winnipeg who introduced a private member’s bill to ban products made with cat and dog fur.

Products are made with can and dog fur? I had no idea, but they apparently are. Clothing with fur trim, and even items with faux fur, imported primarily from China, are sometimes made with cat or dog fur.

In the press release on her web site, she says:

It is time the government of Canada stand up against this inhumane practice; I hope that all Members of Parliament across all party lines will support this bill to ban these products.

Questions started to form in my mind as I listened to her on the radio. I was pleased when the interviewer cut to the heart of the matter when he asked her how this was any different from using other animals for their fur.

She first said that the way the producers of these products treat the animals is inhumane. While this may be true, I didn’t accept  it as an answer to the question. She wants the use of these furs stopped entirely. If the way the furs are harvested were the issue, the bill wouldn’t seek an outright ban. The second thing she said is that these animals are not raised for their fur. This also may be true, but I don’t believe for a second that she’d accept the use of dog and cat fur if the animals were bred specifically for this purpose.

She then came to the real reason. She said that cats and dogs are companion animals rather than animals we use for fur. This is true, but not any sort of reason to pass a law. I don’t think it’s unfair to simplify her position by saying cats and dogs are cute, cuddly, and familiar. Especially familiar.

I don’t want to buy fur made from a cat or dog, but I realize that this calls into question whether I should be buying any fur. Allowing my emotions to draw a false distinction between furry pets and other less cuddly furry animals seems to be an easy thing for Neville. She’s entitled to her feelings but I’d prefer that laws not be entirely absent of logic.

In searching for information about Neville’s bill, it became very clear to me that I’m not alone in this feeling. I believe it because I feel it’s right, while others have more practical reasons.

According to the Canadian Press article, “Feds won’t bar cat and dog fur imports because of seal ban: document,” an internal memo within the federal government says Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz was urged not to follow the United States and Europe in legislating a ban on the use of cat and dog fur. Why? The memo spells it out:

An import ban on cat and dog fur, if it were to be considered, could … undermine Canada’s position against the implementation of foreign import bans on Canadian seal products

The EU banned imports of our seal products. We appealed the ban and they rejected the appeal. It certainly would be questionable if we banned the import of furs from another animal and continued to insist the EU was being unreasonable.

None of this has anything to do with animal welfare. If it did, the legislation being bandied about would address animal welfare directly.

It’s all about money, as usual.

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