July 17, 2008

eBay bans some sales of pet fur

eBay Inc. banned the sale of dog and cat pelts on its German-language websites, effective July 15, 2008. This was after animal rights groups hounded the online auction giant about concerns that pet pelts show up in goods labeled as other kinds of fur. . . . Like other kinds would be better?

The new eBay pet fur ban will extend to France, Italy, and Spain — with other Euro countries to follow, said eBay spokesman Alexander Witt. But it does not cover the United States. What the woof?

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) program leader Peter Pueschel was quoted by AP as saying he welcomed eBay's decision as an important step in animal protection. He added, "We hope that others will follow worldwide, and that such products will be taken off the market." (At IFAW.org, you can read what the org has to say about the Internet animal trade.)

On another level, there's the China syndrome: Undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection toured "fur farms" normally closed to prying eyes in China's Hebei Province. The investigators concluded that 'Conditions on Chinese fur farms make a mockery of the most elementary animal welfare standards. In their lives and their unspeakable deaths, these animals have been denied even the simplest acts of kindness.'" They tell of the worst horrors — documented in words and pictures for those with strong stomachs.

How much slaughtered pet stuff does eBay sells on its Asian websites? Good question. But before we harpoon eBay, we need to line up and sniff out eBay rivals and other little Asian Net auction houses. The Net era has brought big Silk Road traffic with Chinese as well as U.S.-owned auctions in the China market. In the broader Asian market, there's Gmarket, Yahoo's pan-Asian Net dragon. (Business Week called the eBay–Yahoo Asian rivalry "ferocious.")

On July 10, 2008, the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) announced that Overstock.com has become the hundredth retailer to make a pawlicy of not selling any products containing animal fur. As a dog who dreams of an ideal world, I'd like to wear pelts of animals who died of natural causes to help stay warm in the winter — such an energy-saving idea! But I realize that humans can't stop the cruelty-based fur trade unless consumers and advocate groups take a stand against wearing, buying, and selling fur clothing.

Check out the HSUS list of Fur-free Retailers and Designers to see which companies decide to ban fur sales and avoid bad publicity and legal battles.

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