Leather gloves, shoes and other goods being
sold in British shops and online may be made out of dogs slaughtered in horrific factories
in China, it has been claimed. Dog skin produced in the slaughterhouses are
used in products, labelled real leather, destined for export to the West, according to an animal
rights group. Footage taken by People for Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA) shows workers stood by a door at a slaughterhouse in the northern province
of Hebei. As dogs are led through the door, the men kill them with a heavy stick. Sometimes
it takes several blows to finish off the unwitting animals.
Meathooks sway grimly in the foreground of the upsetting footage. PETA Asia’s investigator
saw workers peel the skin off dogs who were still alive.
PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk said: ‘PETA is sure that Britain, Australia and the U.S.
are not exempt from the dog leather trade. ‘Many British high-street retailers are importing
cheap leather from China, so products made from dog skin are almost certainly on the
shelves and in people’s wardrobes. ‘Skin looks the same, whoever it comes from,
and Chinese dog killers are not likely to advertise their skins honestly, so it’s impossible
to tell if those leather gloves or wallets are made out of dog, cow, pig, or goat skin.
‘PETA is calling on British shoppers to consider the terror that dogs and other animals endure
when they’re mercilessly slaughtered and make the safe, vegan choice in clothing and accessories
for the holidays and every day.’ Without conducting expensive DNA tests, it
is virtually impossible to know exactly what kind of animal leather is made from.
The organisation said it visited three slaughterhouses and six processing plants in central China
during a year-long investigation into the slaughter of dogs and the production of dog
skin. A dog slaughterer told PETA Asia’s investigator
that the facility bludgeoned and skinned 100 to 200 dogs a day.
About 300 dogs are kept in the compound, and some can be seen frantically climbing over
one another in an attempt to escape the packed holding cell.
Although the dog-meat industry in China is well known, this is the first time that the
production of Chinese dog leather has been captured on camera.
News agency Reuters confirmed the use of dog skin during a visit to an open-air leather
processing workshop, where workers stretched washed hides to dry in the sun.
With dog meat restaurants popular in many parts of the country, several establishments
later sell the animals’ skin to leather producers, workers at the Hebei workshop said.
‘There are restaurants that sell dog meat and people that eat dog meat,’ said one leather
producer, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
‘These places have a person who specially comes and collects the skins; they’ll go to
each place and take a few,’ he said, referring to the producers. ‘It happens all over the
country.’ Officials of the quasi-governmental China
Leather Industry Association declined to be interviewed, saying they had no knowledge
of dogs being used in leather production. The Ministry of Agriculture did not respond
to repeated requests for interview on conditions in the slaughtering industry, which it oversees.
PETA and other rights groups say dogs are slaughtered throughout the country, with regulations
on animal slaughter poorly enforced. Dog skin yields a tough leather of generally
poorer quality than that of sheep or cows, but which is also cheaper to make.
The plants PETA visited were producing leather for export, said Haleigh Chang, one of the
organisation’s representatives. ‘One owner of a processing plant told us they
export dog skin as lamb skin,’ she said, adding that lack of transparency on the part of producers
made it hard to estimate the size of the dog skin sector within the overall leather industry.
China has faced criticism for its treatment of animals, including bears, whose bile is
used in traditional medicines. Tigers are also bred and killed, in some areas, for their
pelts and bones.