McCartney Promotes European Dog and Cat Fur Trade Ban

BRUSSELS, Belgium, March 2, 2005 (ENS) - Heather Mills McCartney fought for emotional control at the European Parliament Tuesday during a video showing a dog stabbed and skinned before being put to death in China for the dog fur trade. The anti-landmine activist, charity campaigner, and wife of Sir Paul McCartney ran the video at a news conference held to urge a European ban on the production, sale, import and export of dog and cat fur.


Humanitarian campaigner Heather Mills McCartney supports an end to trade in dog and cat fur. (Photo courtesy Canada Newswire)
McCartney called for a cat and dog fur ban across the 25 member states of the European Union.

Rock star Rick Wakeman of the band Yes, along with Struan Stevenson, a Scottish Member of the European Parliament who has supported the ban for years, and MEP Paolo Casaca of Portugal, head of the EU Intergroup on Animal Welfare, joined her in the launch of the current campaign, which they are calling "Rock the Commission."

They asked European Consumer Affairs Commissioner Markos Kyprianou to bring the entire EU into line with the five European countries that have already passed such bans. To date, seven nations - Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, and the United States - have banned trade in cat and dog fur.

Joining McCartney. Wakeman and the MEPs was Rick Swain, leader of the Humane Society International in the 1998 undercover investigation that brought the Asian dog and cat fur trade to public attention.

Swain said, "Looking at the video again was a sad reminder of the investigation. It is an incredible tragedy we haven't got a ban through the EU yet. An EU ban could make a huge difference in the marketplace."

Nearly two million cats and dogs in Asia are raised and slaughtered each year solely for their fur. The fur is then shipped mainly to Europe - mislabeled as Asian Jackal, Corsack Fox, or other fraudulent labels for use as parka hood trim, full length coats, toys and other products, "without consumers knowing what they are buying," McCartney said.


Scottish Member of the European Parliament Struan Stevenson holds a petition and furs that he would like to see banned across the European Union. (Photo courtesy Office of the MEP)
Stevenson displayed some of the pelts and products that have been made from cat and dog skins including a full length coat made from Alsatian puppy skins and a rug made from golden retriever fur.

In Dec 2003, the European Parliament approved by a large majority a written declaration calling on the EU to ban the import, export, sale and production of cat and dog fur. Concurrently a majority of the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers called for the ban. Yet, the European Commission has not acted.

On McCartney's website, Betsy Dribben, director of Humane Society International, writes, "The EU Commission originally claimed it had no authority under EU law to ban this - a legal opinion issued by Matrix Chambers in the UK in May 2004 indicates that there is a legal basis under the EC treaty to ban the fur and furthermore it is unlikely to cause a trade issue."

"The Commission has never fully responded to MEP Struan Stevenson's submission of this legal opinion," Dribben wrote. "They have just ignored the whole thing."

Humanitarian campaigner Heather Mills McCartney also works to eliminate landmines with the group Adopt-A-Minefield. In November 2004, she was honored with the inaugural UNESCO Children in Need Award in recognition of her commitment to the struggle against landmines. McCartney has a personal understanding of the suffering experienced by landmine victims as she lost part of one leg in an automobile accident in 1993.