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1,500 raccoon dogs die in China

(WARNING: This video is extremely graphic, and the ending in particular will highly disturb some people )

About 1,500 raccoon dogs — bred for their fur in China –  have died after eating feed tainted with melamine.

The sad irony is, those might be the lucky ones.

Raccoon dogs, a wild canine species unrelated to the wild raccoon found in North America, are raised in confinement and are commonly skinned alive after being stunned with blows to the head from wooden clubs — as the video above shows.

The breed is native to east Asia, where they are raised in captivity until their fur is harvested to make trim on coats and other clothing. Both their treatment — and the marketing of their fur as faux fur — has been criticized by animal welfare groups

The recent raccoon dog deaths were a result of the animals inadvertently being fed a product that contained the chemical melamine. They subsequently developed kidney stones, said Zhang Wenkui, a veterinary professor at Shenyang Agriculture University. All of the dogs died on farms in just one village.

Zhang determined that the animals died of kidney failure after performing a necropsy — an animal autopsy — on about a dozen dogs, the Associated Press reported.

The Southern Metropolis Daily reported that the deaths took place over the past two months.

It was not immediately clear how the chemical got into the raccoon dog feed, but the animal deaths raise questions about the extent of the chemical’s presence in the country’s food chain.

In the ongoing milk scandal, melamine was said to be added to watered-down milk to artificially boost nitrogen levels, making products seem higher in protein when tested. Four Chinese babies’ deaths have been blamed on infant formula that was laced with melamine. Some 54,000 other children were sickened. Melamine has been found in a wide range of Chinese-made dairy products and foods with milk ingredients over the past few months.

Last year, melamine-tainted wheat gluten, a pet food ingredient made in China, was blamed for the deaths of dozens of dogs and cats in North America.

The Humane Society of the United States has campaigned against the Chinese fur farm industry, and two years ago asked retailers, including several high end U.S. department stores, to stop importing items with fur from animals raised and killed in China. In many cases, the furs are marketed as fake or faux.

In 2004, undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection, Switzerland’s largest animal protection organization, obtained the video above — showing the animals slammed to the pavement, then skinned alive — at fur farms throughout the Hebei province of Eastern China.

Swiss Animal Protection estimated that 1.5 million raccoon dogs alone are killed each year on Chinese fur farms.

Comments

Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time October 21, 2008 at 12:18 pm

I haven’t worked up the nerve to watch the video yet–and may not be able to. I do know that since more and more Americans are opting for fake fur trim on winter gear, they are now using this real fur and labeling it as fake. I recall reading about that in the former Mutts blog and on Dogster as well. I believe that in a number of cases, the companies and designers involved had actually specified fake fur, and when the substitutions were discovered, the culprit coats were removed from stores. Now that it’s fall, and we’re beginning to think in terms of (fake) fur-lined outerwear, it will be a good thing to examine any fur trim before purchasing a garment. Make sure you can discern a woven base to it.

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