UK Considers Requiring "Domestic Animal" Label of Some Furs

According to The Independent (London), Great Britain’s Trade and Industry Secretary is considering rules that would require a “domestic animal” label on furs that are made from the fur of dogs and cats.

The United States banned the import, export or sale, of clothes made of cat or dog fur after Burlington Coat Factory sold coats that turned out to contain dog fur. Great Britain apparently currently has no law banning such furs nor requiring labelling.

The Independent quotes Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock as pushing for the rules. Hancock told The Independent,

Cat and dog fur is a cheaper option than other fur and is being used all over Europe. I am sure it’s being sold in Britain and I have spoken to traders abroad in countries like Bulgaria and Romania where there is a massive stray dog problem and their fur is routinely used. This fur is being passed off as Siberian fox or rabbit fur and people have no idea it is from dogs and cats.


Fur clothes to be given ‘domestic animal’ label. Marie Woolf, The Independent (London), June 20, 2003.

European Commission Surveys Opinions of Animal Research in EU Candidate Countries

The Scientist recently reported on the results of a European Commission survey of public opinions of science in 13 countries that are candidates for European Union membership. The goal of the survey was to compare opinions in candidate countries with those of existing EU countries.

The 13 countries surveyed by Gallup were Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Turkey. A total of 12,274 adults from those countries were surveyed, and asked the following question about research involving animals,

And could you please tell me if you tend to agree or disagree with each of the following statements? Scientists should be allowed to experiment on animals like dogs and monkeys if this can help sort out human health problems.

Here’s how the answers broke down for each country,




Czech Republic

The survey also offered an interesting insight into possible motivations/explanations for support of animal rights. This was just one question in a long series of questions about all aspects of science, including a number of questions designed to test the level of scientific knowledge of the individual being polled. Individuals polled were given a short quiz where they were read sentences such as “The oxygen we breathe comes from plants” or “Electrons are smaller than atoms” and then pronounce each sentence as true or false.

In comparing the answers to those questions with the answers about use of animals, there was a tendency for those with little knowledge of science to oppose animal research,

The analysis showed that this attitude is correlated to the degree of scientific knowledge possessed: people scoring high on the scientific knowledge scale are much more likely to find animal experiments justifiable if they are aimed at resolving human health problems (68%), while those who don’t know much about science are much less likely to agree (52%).

Compared to the current EU countries, the 13 candidate countries are far more supportive of medical research on animals.

A survey of the 15 countries that make up the European Union found that only 45 percent agreed that “Scientists should be allowed to experiment on animals like dogs and monkeys if this can help sort out human health problems,” while 41 percent disagreed. Overall, 63 percent of people in the candidate countries agreed with the animal research question, compared to just 22 percent disagreeing.

As Richard Ley of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told The Scientist, this could lead to medical research firms leaving existing European Union countries for the much more accepting climate in candidate countries,

This is a danger. The violence, harassment and intimidation activities of some animal extremists are bound to make companies look at the wisdom of continuing animal research in an environment where that is permitted.


Opinions on science in wider Europe. The Scientist, April 3, 2003.

Candidate Countries Eurobarometer: Public Opinion in the Countries Applying for European Union Membership. European Commission, January 2003.

”Europeans and Biotechnology” Survey of Public Perception – EU. Animal Biotechnology, April 1, 2003.

Ah, To Be a Bear in Bulgaria

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Matthew Brunwasser wrote an interesting article a few days ago about efforts to help dancing bears in Bulgaria. Dancing bears are illegal in Bulgaria, but the government does not strictly enforce the ban.

Enter Four Paws, a European animal organization that in November 2000 built a square-kilometer park in Belitsa, Bulgaria, for the bears. It buys bears from entertainers for about $5,000 per bear and retires them to the park.

All of which has some in Belitsa wondering about the priorities of European donors. Each bear eats about $200/month in food, whereas the per capita monthly income of Belitsa residents is a mere $120/month.

Belitsa resident Kostadin Trichov told Brunwasser, “There’s a saying in town: ‘There’s nothing better than to be a bear in Belitsa.'”

Bulgarian filmmaker Assen Valdimirov has produced a documentary about the park called “Of Bears and Men” and complained to Brunwasser,

The people in town are shocked, all of Bulgaria is shocked. It’s ridiculous to spend such money for six bears here. They are more horrified by the conditions of the animals than the people.

For his part, Four Paws’ Josef Pfabigan says that the poverty in Belitsa is not his problem.

It’s not my business to think about money. My business is a project for animal protection. Bears are the point. For the people in the region it’s about business.

According to Brunwasser, the bear park has changed attitudes in Bulgaria about bear dancing, but Bulgarians may be getting a mixed message. He reports that one couple took the $5,000 they received from selling their bear and promptly bought a monkey to use for street busking.


Dancing bears get help, but not Bulgaria’s poor. Matthew Brunwasser, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 3, 2002.