Thu, Dec 23, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Online stores sell cat and dog skin products in China

AFP, SHANGHAI

Thousands of products made from the skins of cats and dogs are being offered on China’s largest retail Web site Taobao, sparking outrage among animal lovers, state media reported on Tuesday.

Search results and sales records from Taobao showed the most popular items were trousers and hats made from dog fur, which is touted for its ability to ward off the cold.

One seller with the username “sjz2ys” boasted that all the cat skin products available in his online store were authentic, though he had only sold one item — a waistcoat — in the past month, the Shanghai Daily said.

A spokeswoman for Taobao disputed the number of products cited in the report, saying the site’s word search function was imperfect and the phrase “cat skin” would bring up unrelated products.

“There are such products on Taobao, but there are a hundred of them at most. We have noticed the report and are contacting the seller to take them off shelves,” the spokeswoman said.

Animal rights activists said dealers usually targeted stray animals, selling their skins to fur traders in the country’s east and the meat to restaurants in the south.

“We have volunteers to protect the animals but their efforts are not enough as the government’s supervision is inadequate,” Zhai Yining, an official with the China Small Animal Protection Association, was quoted as saying.

Animal lovers posted comments on social networking site Douban calling for the sales of such products to be banned.

“Would those sleeping on a mattress made at the cost of lives feel really happy and comfortable? Isn’t that cruel?” one Web user said in a comment on a picture of a mattress made from cat fur.

According to rules introduced by Taobao in November last year, the sale of cat or dog meat, furs and fur products is formally banned along with sale of products made from the parts of endangered species, but enforcement of the rules is spotty.

An unnamed official with Alibaba, the operator of Taobao.com, told the Shanghai Daily Web site inspectors charged with deleting irregular information were overwhelmed by the number of sellers publishing product details.

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