Effect Measure

Ruling priorities: reigning cats and dogs

Many Americans were outraged when they learned the fur collar on their new made-in-China coat was really cat fur or dog fur. I guess the outrage at the sacrifice of what we know as a companion animal (aka pet) for clothing is understandable. If we kept mink or fox as pets it might elicit the same reaction. The fact that birds are common household pets in other parts of the world but not in North America or Europe seems to make it all right to cull them by the millions in a bird flu outbreak, but I’ve carried on about this sensitivity/insensitivity issue before and how it depends on whose pet is being sacrificed and I’m not going to do it again. Not this time. This time it’s people, many of them children:

A few years back, American consumers discovered to their horror that fur collars on made-in-China coats purchased in US stores were made from the fur of cats and dogs. The Humane Society of the United States conducted an eighteen-month undercover investigation and exposed the slaughter of more than 2 million domestic dogs and cats by garment makers in China and other Asian countries. Congress acted swiftly. It enacted the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, banning all imported garments made with dog or cat fur. The bill included fines of up to $10,000 for each illegal item and barred repeat violators from importing or exporting any fur products.(William Greider in The Nation), subscription only alas; January 29, 2007 print edition)

Yes, fast action and decisive action by the Congress on behalf of cats and dogs. I don’t mind. We have always had dogs and each has been like part of our family. Of course we also have a daughter and a son in our family. they are part of families around the world, too. But since they aren’t cats or dogs, Congress has no incentive to protect them, nor do most Americans have the same outrage for the mistreatment of foreign children as they do the mistreatment of foreign cats and dogs. What am I talking about? Sweatshop legislation. Greider, again:

The vile human abuses lurking behind famous brand names have been repeatedly exposed by Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee, which has been investigating factories in Central America, China, Bangladesh, Mexico and others. Wal-Mart is among the repeat offenders. Like other US retailers, it claims to be enforcing decent labor conditions. The investigators find otherwise. Kernaghan points out that the same companies have won enforceable rules in trade agreements to protect their trademarks, labels and copyrights, yet regard protections for workers as “an impediment to free trade.” “Under this distorted sense of values,” says Kernaghan, “the label is protected but not the human being, the worker who makes the product.”

He might have added, and so are the cats and dogs. Senator Byron Dorgon (Democrat of North Dakota) has introduced a bill to ban import of clothes produced under internationally defined “sweatshop conditions.” As Greider observes, it also makes companies accountable for coercing workers to work under dangerous conditions, conditions that have taken the lives of thousands of garment workers in catastrophic fires. Whether Dorgan’s bill will succeed depends upon whether the people lobby is as strong and as heartfelt as the dog and cat lobby.

What do my fellow dog and cat lovers think? You can find out more here. You can even tell your representative and Senators to stop this outrage. Your cat or dog will love you even more for it.

Comments

  1. #1 Mark
    January 30, 2007

    Perversity. Any animal lover can imagine taking one of those doomed dogs or cats and making it part of the family. It’s harder to imagine taking one of those children and making him or her part of the family, especially when so many people demonize the countries and people involved. Mistreated children are just collateral damage in the war for profits.

  2. #2 Victoria
    January 30, 2007

    It is a cultural thing. What you might call a perversity is called food in other cultures.

    In Korea for instance, beef and pig, are very expensive. Yes, one can eat chicken or fish, if you have the money, and if you don’t, a fillet de dog or cat will feed you and their fur will keep you warm in the middle of Korea’s long freezing winters.

    In other parts of the world humans are even more adventurous with their food choices; live monkey brains; gorillas; rats; bats; snails; raccoons; bears; insects; slugs; worms; whales; dolphins; sea slugs; sea urchin; cow’s blood; etc. etc.

    You would be amazed at the FOOD that you would eat, if there was suddenly a shortage.

  3. #3 crazy mother
    January 30, 2007

    Victoria,yes it is a cultural thing and some cultures are more “primitive” than others.Most of us in the West eat beef and lamb and we strive to enact legislation to do this as humanely as possible.In some cultures nothing is thought of breaking dogs’legs to keep them from running away from market,cut-throating animals in the back-yard on religious occasions or creating fistulas to milk bile from live bears. If I seem culturally insensitive,tough.

  4. #4 marquer
    January 30, 2007


    a fillet de dog or cat will feed you and their fur will keep you warm in the middle of Korea’s long freezing winters.

    Victoria provides today’s dose of transcendent idiocy.

    I’m about to say something which will upset animal lovers. Please do stop reading *as of this sentence* if your sensibilities are fragile.

    It is common in Korean markets for dogs and cats to be cut up for food preparation while they are still breathing and conscious. There are authoritatively witnessed accounts of alive-and-clawing cats being put into blenders to make soup. Of entirely awake and alive dogs having limbs taken off with meat cleavers.

    It’s not the species which are being eaten which should give grounds for outrage. It is the brutal and inhumane and agonizing manner in which those species are being treated before they are consumed.

    It’s not limited to Korea. The Chinese will skin snakes alive for the table. I’ve been offered stirfried live frog in Singapore. I find all such practices utterly repulsive.

    It’s okay in my book to eat meat. But for the sake of our shared ability to feel pain, show some modest empathy, display some minimal ethics, and do please kill the animal first, cleanly and quickly and painlessly.

  5. #5 Greg
    January 30, 2007

    Crazy Mother, you have obviously never been in a modern american factoryfarm or slaughterhouse. Those others are not the only “primitive” cultures. Our veneer of superiority consists merely of taking care to avoid looking in mirrors.

  6. #6 Johnny
    January 31, 2007

    @crazy mother

    I think if my eyes rolled any farther back they’d fall out of my head. Are you just trolling or completely insane? Oh yeah right, here in the good ol’ US of A our meat dies with a smile on their faces because they are treated so well. Here’s some happy fun time video for you to enjoy, you can see how virtuous and kind we treat our animals here. Nope no barbarism, cruelty, or abject torture going on. None at all.

    Earthlings (Via Google Video)

  7. #7 Nancy
    January 31, 2007

    It appears Revere’s point has been entirely missed. The comments section is rife with discussion of cruelty to animals, and nary a word on the deplorable toll to children in sweatshops. I had to read the entry twice to be sure I hadn’t missed the point. What is wrong with people that animals rate a more vociferous defense than children?

  8. #8 crfullmoon
    January 31, 2007

    …”factories in Central America, China, Bangladesh, Mexico and others. Wal-Mart is among the repeat offenders. Like other US retailers, it claims to be enforcing decent labor conditions. The investigators find otherwise.”…

    Thank you, Senator Byron Dorgon, though, I think if pandemic breaks out this year, it will make sweatshops and mindless consumerism alike moot points. (Maybe even make greedy corporations teaming up with greedy governments rather difficult.)

  9. #9 Liz Borkowski
    January 31, 2007

    I agree that it’s far more important to eliminate sweatshop labor than to stop the use of dog and cat fur in clothing. I suspect that there’s been so little success with the former because it’s so widespread.

    Legislation requiring the goods be produced without sweatshop labor has done better at the state and local levels than at the federal level. The group SweatFree Communities explains:

    “Sweatfree purchasing policies, including a milestone San Francisco city ordinance that just went into effect, require government vendors and their subcontractors to abide by fair labor standards when supplying goods such as law enforcement uniforms and other apparel. The states of California, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania have passed anti-sweatshop legislation, as well as dozens of cities including Los Angeles, Madison, Milwaukee, and Olympia.”

    In terms of child labor specifically, chocolate is one of the worst industries. In 2001, Senator Harkin and Rep. Engel got major chocolate companies to agree to a protocol (the Harkin-Engel protocol) to end abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms over the next four years. According to labor rights groups, though, the protocol expired without the chocolate companies having done what they’d agreed to.

  10. #10 Gilmore
    January 31, 2007

    Unfortunately it’s not just the children that get treated worse than dogs, it’s our elders too.

    We think nothing of taking a sick animal to the vet to end its pain and suffering. A human on the other hand, has few choices to leave planet Earth with dignity when facing certain death from an incurable disease.

    It’s a dog’s life. .

  11. #11 KMR
    January 31, 2007

    nancy,

    It seems that Revere’s point has been completely made by the fact that the commentary revolves around cruelty to animals instead of cruelty to humans.

  12. #12 tardigrade
    January 31, 2007

    I think to be ‘good’ to both humans and animals is to eat things lower on the food chain. I prefer eating with the aphids, myself… Besides, it would be better all around for the planet as well…

  13. #13 attack rate
    January 31, 2007

    Ignoring the animal cruelty discussion entirely –

    Is there no such thing as the “No Sweatshop” label in the USA?

    I try to make a point of buying clothes and shoes which were manufactured in the country I live in (which is still possible, but getting harder – the main supplier I relied upon for boots has just outsourced all their production to China), but where that’s not possible, I buy clothes tagged with the “no sweatshop” label. If possible, also from fair trade sources.

    Along with lobbying the powers that be, demonstrating my commitment with my own purchases has educated those around me. Even in my tiny town, there is now a shop stocking fair trade coffee and tea.

  14. #14 K
    January 31, 2007

    Thanks Johnny for the Earthlings link – I just watched a bit so far – beside the cruelty issue, besides the health issue for humans eating animals raised in close confinement we have to also realize what perfect conditions for bacteria and viruses to grow and change we have created with our factory livestock.

    Attack Rate – just because the label says Made in America don’t be sure Americans have made them . There is the nasty little deal that Jack Abramoff help set up on the Mariana’s islands where “Because they were produced in a territory of the United States, garments traveled tariff-free and quota-free to the profitable U.S. market and were entitled to display the coveted “Made in the USA” label. Among the manufacturers that had profited from the un-free labor market on the island were Tommy Hilfiger USA, Gap, Calvin Klein and Liz Claiborne. Moved by the sworn testimony of U.S. officials and human-rights advocates that the 91 percent of the workforce who were immigrants — from China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — were being paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage and were forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks minus plumbing, work 12 hours a day, often seven days a week, without any of the legal protections U.S. workers are guaranteed, Murkowski wrote a bill to extend the protection of U.S. labor and minimum-wage laws to the workers in the U.S. territory of the Northern Marianas.”
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/09/real.delay/
    The bill Murkowski wrote, Tom Delay stopped – do read the whole article.

  15. #15 M. Randolph Kruger
    January 31, 2007

    Shades of Nancy Pelosi and American Samoa……..

  16. #16 Attack Rate
    February 1, 2007

    Well, where I am in Australia they can’t get away with that. If it says made in Australia, it has to actually be made here, and there are minimum wages and conditions specifically for the garment industry.

    thank heavens.

  17. #17 K
    February 1, 2007

    MRK I have only seen snippets of Pelosi and Samoa but it looks like more of the same – as I said before I don’t like Democrats much better than Republicans – just a little sliver better because they at least make a few token attempts to be Dudley Do Right’s while the Republicans don’t cover very well at all who they are working for.

  18. #18 g510
    February 2, 2007

    Re. eating monkey brains: Just say “prions!” Prions that are particularly adapted for apes, of which we are one. Prions that can’t be destroyed except by cooking at high enough temperatures to denature protein, which is to say, burn it to a black ash.

    As for the cruelty factor, the only difference between ourselves and the rest of the barbarians is that we keep our cruelty in the closet and pretend it’s not going on. Yet it is not that difficult to slaughter animals in a humane manner. The only thing stopping us doing it uniformly is the ability to extract a few extra dollars from conditions where cruelty is a predictable consequence.

    The Apostle Paul was right on target when he said, “Love of money is the root of all evil.”

    That’s not “some” evil, but ALL. Think about that for a moment. Try to find a counter-example. They are few and far between.

  19. #19 cougar
    February 2, 2007

    I recall reading an article in a farm magazine a while back that recommended that poultry farmers stop feeding chickens at least 24 hours before they are to be shipped out for slaughter. Better to starve a flock of birds in their final hours of life than waste a few dollars worth of feed on “dead chickens walking.” And it didn’t even save that much money…. Even convicted murderers get a final meal before they’re put to death.

  20. #20 K
    February 2, 2007

    Cougar, there is another reason for the 24 hour no feed – besides saving on feed, it is slightly less messy as the crop, stomach, and intestines are empty or at least more empty.

    We kill about 10 roosters each year – I did the no feed bit at first but found a way to deal with the full crop – I don’t mind losing a few handfuls of feed for assuaging my guilt about the whole thing – we have a very sharp axe and make it as quick and clean as we can.

    One other point – some of our roosters get really floppy combs that cover one eye – when this happens we dub them which means we cut the comb off – sharp scissors and a cube of ice when it is done. The first time I really felt awful, but I have noticed that the roosters give one squawk and then act normal. They never hold a grudge against us. So I think that the comb, while having pain sensors is not as tender as we might think. First time we did it, I iced it first, used benzocaine before and after and iced it when we done, but it really seems to not be such a big deal to them. I think that SOME but not ALL of the procedures done to factory animals are not as bad as we think – I suspect tail docking is not a big deal but castrating with a knife probably is.

    My point is that it is best to be fully informed before getting upset about something – there is plenty to be upset about concerning factory animals and I think it is most effective to concentrate on that which is clearly abuse and let some stuff slide.

    Question – when baby boys are circumcised do they anesthetize them? I truly don’t know and if not, I don’t know if it is a big deal or not for the babies. This discussion just made me think about that.

  21. #21 Attack Rate
    February 3, 2007

    Cougar and K – it is recommended to withhold feed from all animals (sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, etc) for AT LEAST 24 hours prior to slaughter, to allow them to empty out. This is not a matter of “wasting feed”, especially in sheep and cattle, where the carcass is sold by weight, and lower weights may be experienced in animals which have had food withheld, even for 24 hours.
    The main reason food witholding is practiced is to reduce carcass faecal contamination (this usually occurs during transport, and if the animals are ‘empty’, they are less likely to contaminate each other), and therefore the amounts of E. coli, Salmonella and other organisms which get transferred through the skin and onto meat during flaying. It also means less risk for accidental spread if intestines etc are punctured.
    So, the reason is financial, yes – food poisonings are expensive.

    K – in my farm experience, castrating lambs and calves with a knife causes less reaction (especially when done at day old) than tail docking in lambs, which is usually done here around 8 weeks.

  22. #22 cougar
    February 3, 2007

    K and Attack Rate, thanks for the comments and clarification. I agree that withholding feed makes sense to “empty out” the animals, however the article I read focused only on the financial aspect of wasting feed and increasing farmers’ profits. Actually I think that was the focus of the whole magazine.
    K, I suspect you’re right about pain sensors in the comb – I keep a heat lamp in the coop and have noticed my alpha rooster touching his comb to the bulb which leaves burns but doesn’t seem to cause him pain. Have never heard of docking them though. And don’t get me started on castration! Any suggestions on keeping roosters quiet? One of my black Spanish roosters crows constantly night and day and while I don’t need him for fertilization, I can’t bring myself to kill him – yet.

  23. #23 BirdAdvocate
    February 5, 2007

    Humane treatment? I reserve most of my concern for humane treatment for humans. Secondarily, my concern is for the survival of the wildlife in our ecosystems. Domestic animals are furthest down my list, but still make it.

  24. #24 Justin
    February 6, 2007

    I think usage of animal fur should be stopped, instead a good substitute should be used..

  25. #25 Justin
    February 6, 2007

    I think that instead of using animal fur, a substitute should be used

  26. #26 Attack Rate
    December 21, 2007

    Cougar and K – it is recommended to withhold feed from all animals (sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, etc) for AT LEAST 24 hours prior to slaughter, to allow them to empty out. This is not a matter of “wasting feed”, especially in sheep and cattle, where the carcass is sold by weight, and lower weights may be experienced in animals which have had food withheld, even for 24 hours.
    The main reason food witholding is practiced is to reduce carcass faecal contamination (this usually occurs during transport, and if the animals are ‘empty’, they are less likely to contaminate each other), and therefore the amounts of E. coli, Salmonella and other organisms which get transferred through the skin and onto meat during flaying. It also means less risk for accidental spread if intestines etc are punctured.
    So, the reason is financial, yes – food poisonings are expensive.

    K – in my farm experience, castrating lambs and calves with a knife causes less reaction (especially when done at day old) than tail docking in lambs, which is usually done here around 8 weeks.

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