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CNN Larry King Live
Dogs and Cats Abused for Their Fur
Aired December 11, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RYAN SEACREST, CNN GUEST HOST: Tonight, dogs and cats. Man's best friends slaughtered in huge numbers, maybe by the millions, for their fur. Imagine, the animals that we love so much as pets beaten, strangled and skinned.
Here to take us inside the shocking story, Lady Heather Mills McCartney, Sir Paul's wife. She's an activist for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Actor Alec Baldwin, his animal activism earned him PETA's Linda McCartney Memorial Reward this year. Rick Swain, chief investigator for the Humane Society of the U.S. and a former homicide detective. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He helped pass legislation to try to stop this horror. So did Virginia Congressman Jim Moran, a member of the Friends of Animals Caucus.
They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening from Los Angeles. I'm Ryan Seacrest in for Larry King tonight. There is no way to know the exact numbers, but animal rights groups estimate that up to 2 million cats and dogs are slaughtered in China every year for their fur. Undercover video from China and elsewhere in Asia shows dogs and cats being beaten, strangled and skinned.
For the next hour we'll be looking at this issue. What's happening to this dog and cat fur? Where is it being sold and who's buying it?
We have to warn you that some of the video and photos you will see tonight are very, very disturbing. Thank you, panel, for being with us this evening.
Let's start with each of you and your individual roles when it comes to this cause. Heather?
LADY HEATHER MILLS MCCARTNEY, WIFE OF EX-BEATLE: I got a videotape sent to me 11 months ago from Dennis Erdman, who is one of the directors of "Sex in the City." And he had been at our benefit for landmines and said, look, you seem to have made campaigns work. You've got to help us.
And I get asked things every day and the reason landmines works is because I stick specifically to that. But when I watched these images of Alsatian puppies and Golden Retrievers being skinned alive in China for fur to be brought over to Europe, I was just horrified and had to get behind it.
SEACREST: And Alec? How did you get involved? ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Well, the specific issue with China, with cat and dog fur importation from China, was something that was mentioned to me by Heather, because I went to the Adopt-a-Minefield benefit. But knowing as I do -- because I work with PETA -- that the Chinese market is such a significant part of our imports now and they're exporting so much stuff here that exposing the techniques they use, the inhumane techniques that they're using in China to make these fur products for U.S. consumption -- and many people don't even know that they're buying cat and dog coats. They're buying a product that they just know in some generic sense -- many American consumers simply buy a fur product, unaware of what the source of the material is.
SEACREST: How shocked were you when you first saw some of this video and started to learn about it?
BALDWIN: Unfortunately, I wasn't shocked at all because I had worked with PETA on other hidden video. And my hat goes off to those that obtained the hidden video here because it's a very dangerous process. I've worked with other organizations like the Performing Animal Welfare Society, Pat Derby (ph) and Ed Stewart (ph) would go --- Ed would go get hidden video of abuse of circus animals and so forth and it's very risky.
The people that are doing this will always claim that there's some economic determination for what they're doing. You can get into a lot of trouble if they catch you with a hidden camera. But I wasn't surprised at all because I had narrated the "Meet Your Meat" videotape for PETA, which of course had a lot of hidden video of cattle ranching and chicken farming and so forth.
SEACREST: Congressman Kucinich, you have been instrumental with this legislation. How did you first get involved and what's your role?
REP. DENNIS KUCINICH, (D) OH: The weatherman at Channel 8 in Cleveland, Dick Goddard, had a tremendous movement started in Cleveland which focused on the Humane Society's 18-month investigation. And when I saw those films, it broke my heart. I mean, you see what's happening to poor and defenseless animals and you want to do something about it. So with the help from Dick and others from Channel 8, what we did was to come together -- we had a big campaign. And thousands of people in Cleveland became involved and it resulted in the support that led me to ask Congress to get included in a trade bill the dog fur -- a bill that would restrict the use of dog and cat fur -- actually ban it in the United States.
And we got that passed with the help of Jim Moran, Congressman Crane at the time. And that happened five years ago.
So you can make a difference by being involved which I think is the message from this panel.
SEACREST: We're going to talk more about that journey and what happened five years ago. Right now I want to show you some videotape that was given to us by PETA which really hits home how awful this story is. We understand it was shot this summer at a marketplace in southern China.
Before we show it, again, I want to warn you that it is very, very disturbing. Heather, I think you're familiar with this video. Why don't you tell us about it as we roll this? Take a look.
MCCARTNEY: Well, you're going to just be horrified by watching it. It's totally barbaric. I mean they crush the dogs and cats into what are virtually barbed-wire cages, and they put 20 to 30 all crushed together and just throw them -- look at them, they're throwing them off a truck 20 or 30 feet. And there's no reason for that at all. It's totally inhumane. And they pick them up by the neck with tongs to move them from one case to the other and just throw them in. And you see the dogs aren't even violent. They're just poking and prodding the dogs as we speak.
And the pussy cats are licking each other. They actually lick each others wounds. They don't even claw each other. If you were in that situation, you'd be clawing your way to get out and they're just licking each other because they're so shocked and they're watching around them, what's going to happen. They're going to be skinned alive. And there's just no reason for it.
SEACREST: Your husband had a very profound reaction once he saw this video. Tell me about what Sir Paul said after he learned what was going on?
MCCARTNEY: Well, he said that no way will we ever go to China, will he perform there, and the fact that they keep denying it's going on.
SEACREST: Was he performing there?
MCCARTNEY: No, but he had planned to go and do a world tour but he wouldn't go to anywhere where they -- China do a lot of inhumane things, sadly, and I can't even believe we're trading them until they treat their animals and their citizens as expected with countries that where trading with so -- he didn't want to go there.
SEACREST: Let's go to Washington. Rick Swain from the Humane Society. Tell us about your role in this.
RICK SWAIN, HUMANE SOCIETY: I was one of the principal investigators of the Humane Society of the United States. We partnered with Manfred Kerman (ph) in Germany, who's an independent journalist, and conducted the original investigation into the use of dog and cat fur, finding it, of course, in China and then finding it in the marketplace in the United States and still finding it throughout the world.
SEACREST: And this investigation in 1998, what did you witness firsthand, Rick?
SWAIN: Well, to start with, I didn't believe it. I didn't believe that it was even remotely possible that this many dogs and cats could be slaughtered as inhumanely as they were for their fur and each step of the investigation I just was surprised. I said to them this isn't possible but of course you see the physical evidence, the graphic evidence. You see them in a warehouse piled to the ceiling the size of a football field filled with dog fur being the butcher shop in the village that's supplying the tannery with dog and cat fur and you realize it is true and it's just beyond comprehension.
SEACREST: It really is. It's just unbelievable.
Congressman Moran, also in Washington. How did you get involved?
REP. JIM MORAN, (D) VA: Well, it -- I'm not as disciplined or determined as my friend and colleague ...
SEACREST: As our good friend here.
MORAN: Well, yeah. I admire Dennis. I'm just kind of a poor slob trying to keep his conscience alive.
But I do know that man's inhumanity to mankind generally begins with the way in which individuals and societies treat animals. Cruelty to asnimals invariably leads to cruelty to other humans, and this is a horrific case. We can stop this, because China and the individual companies that engage in trade of dog and cat fur don't make that much money. If we threaten them with economic sanctions then they're going to stop it. That legislation that was passed in 2000 by President Clinton, and gave the Humane Society the ability to prosecute, has in fact substantially reduced the use of dog and cat fur in the United States.
When Rick did his investigation, even in National Airport, the nation's capital, they found that about 35 percent of the products that they picked off the shelf that had fur, when they did a forensic analysis, it turned out to be dog and cat fur.
Well, when we told companies and they realized what the repercussions would be, they immediately stopped. And so I don't think there is a whole lot of it deliberately going on. I suspect, though, that firms that import from China regularly may have some, but I don't think it's deliberate.
But here the United Kingdom doesn't even have a ban. I would think that they would be ahead of us in something like this.
SEACREST: We had asked the Chinese embassy in the U.S. to provide either someone for an on camera interview or a statement for tonight's show. They gave us the following statement, which is headed "Fur industry in China on humane track."
It reads, "Animal protection and animal welfare is by no means exclusive to the western countries -- the idea has long been existed (sic) in traditional Chinese culture. The idea of benevolence held by the Confucianism or the tradition of protecting living things in Buddhism shows the Chinese people's concerns about animals. The case of dogs and cats being brutally killed is individual action of some farmers who simply did not have the knowledge base to properly slaughter animals. The case does not reverse the fact that the Chinese people, like the American people, love animals. China's fur industry is generally on the right track. The Chinese government attaches great importance to strengthening, adopting international standards for the fur industry. We sincerely hope to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with the international community to promote the improvement of better protection and welfare of animals."
That is what they had to say. We're going to take a break, come back, and you can respond right after this.
SEACREST: Welcome back. I'm Ryan Seacrest in for Larry King tonight. We're talking about the horrific abuse of dogs and cats for the sake of their fur.
Having heard the statement from the Chinese government. What do you have to say about it?
MCCARTNEY: Now they're actually admitting that farmers do slaughter animals by skinning them alive. Why don't they make a law that they don't do it? Because that's the only way they know how to do it. Why can't you just cut an animals throat which is horrific to anything (ph) but to actually just skin it alive and leave it to die for 20 minutes? It's sick.
SWAIN: Heather is absolutely correct. For the first time that I've heard them they're actually admitting it. What's really ludicrous about that statement, there is -- we spent months and hours and hours and weeks undercover corresponding with these people, making up fake names for dog and cat fur. They're very much aware of the sensitivity of western countries and European countries.
SEACREST: What do you mean, making fake names?
SWAIN: They call them fantasy names.
SEACREST: Fantasy names for an actual dog?
SWAIN: No, for dog or cat fur, so they can trade it without western countries or European countries being aware of what it is they're trading in.
SEACREST: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: If you take the Chinese officials at their word this is an important moment. They are for animal rights and they say so in the context of celebrating Buddhism. That would be a moment that the Dalai Lama would applaud. I would add though, that if they are real about this they should submit to voluntary curbs on the export of dog and cat fur from their country and they should also permit open inspection.
We should be able to go. If this group wanted to go, Ryan, all of us, we should be able to go to China and look at those places where wew know this is happening.
SEACREST: What would happen if you wanted to go right now? KUCINICH: Well, you know, based on this. I'm going to send a letter to the Chinese embassy, saying this the direction they want to go, it's a new era in animal rights, then why don't you invite the Humane Society, PETA and others to come and inspect, and then we'll see.
MCCARTNEY: That's a good idea.
BALDWIN: Another thing that I think is important, just from my own experience, is that I hope that HSUS, I hope the Humane Society and so forth can get this footage that Swain obtained on a Web site that people can go to and they can view it over and over again ...
MCCARTNEY: It's on my PETA. We've got it on PETA.
BALDWIN: It's on PETA's Web site ...
MCCARTNEY: And the Humane Society.
BALDWIN: And HSUS. Because the great thing about people who are inclined in this country to care about these things. They don't need anybody to tell them what's on that tape. You see that tape and you see that's abuse of animals and the tape speaks volumes about the issue.
SEACREST: We have some more of that tape to show you now. This was shot a few years back, actually. It captures the awful brutality of this story. It's far too disturbing to show it in its entirety but Rick Swain has seen it and can tell us more again, it's difficult to look at. Let's roll that tape now and Rick tell us about what we're looking at here.
SWAIN: OK, Ryan. What you're seeing is a dog, obviously an Alsatian or a German shepherd being tied to a fence prior to being slaughtered for its fur. The method they use is designed to do as little damage to the fur as possible because -- it's economics, that's what it's about. What you just about saw was the man was going to slash the inside of the thigh of the dog and let it bleed out and actually skin it while it's still alive, at least appears to be still alive.
And again, that's because they want to protect and preserve their fur. If they did in fact do what Heather suggested and slash the throat, they wouldn't do that because economically that wouldn't make sense to them. That would damage their fur and that's not what they're about.
MCCARTNEY: And when you actually see the whole of that footage -- because we've watched hours of it -- the dog is still alive. It's still completely alive for 20 minutes, it's still blinking and shaking and just in total shock -- because obviously I know from losing my leg, your body, the endorphin and the adrenaline rushes and you feel the pain, but you're just in absolute shock. And it is lying there in total shock and then they just throw it on another pile of flesh. The whole myth that they eat dog meat, apart from in small areas of China -- SEACREST: Do they or don't they?
MCCARTNEY: They do, but it's a different dog.
SEACREST: What's the difference?
MCCARTNEY: Well, the dogs that they eat and have the meat from, they don't use its skin or its fur, and the dog whose skin and fur they use, they don't eat the meat. It's barbaric. We've got to make a stand, that if we're going to open trade to China the way that we are, that they have to have humane ways of treating humanity, animals, people, everything. We can't do that. We can't -- it's just disgusting, it's so disgusting.
SWAIN: I think Heather is absolutely correct. We asked, when we were doing the undercover part of this, repeatedly, do people in China eat dogs and cats? And the people who we were dealing with weren't in these couple of small pockets in China, and they said no, eating dog is considered a very low class thing to do and nobody eats cat because it doesn't taste good.
MCCARTNEY: But the great thing is that they are admitting there are -- they went from total denial -- and then the Beijing news put in pictures of dogs and cats being slaughtered. Now they've gone to the next level because too much footage, too much proof and too many people that are lucky enough like all of us to be on a platform to speak out about it and making them have to look at the fact that they're not going to get away with it any longer and if they want to carry on exporting their high end exports, they're risking them by treating these animals so inhumanely and doing nothing about it, allowing it to go on.
SEACREST: So when we come back, what do we do about? What's still happening, it is the global fur trade of dog and cat fur. LARRY KING LIVE returns after this.
SEACREST: We're talking about fur trade. Dog and cat fur trade. And LARRY KING LIVE invited a representative from the International Fur Trade Federation to take part in today's show but they declined the invitation. They said it's their policy not to take part in televised debates. They also said they would not participate since, and I'm quoting now, "The fur trade in North America and Europe categorically does not handle these products."
The IFTF did, however, provide a statement that reads in part, "Contrary to misinformation supplied by activist groups, the fur trade in Europe and North America does not use felis catus and canis familiaris, cat and dog. While we respect the cultural diversity between nations, we are sensitive to the fact that in many parts of the world these species are domesticated pets and use of their fur would be unacceptable to the majority of people. The worldwide fur industry is tightly regulated by provincial, state, national and international regulations and codes of practice. The fur trade does not use endangered species. As an industry we are against any form of animal cruelty. We deplore and work against the mistreatment of animals. It should be also noted that the trade has introduced a fur labeling system in Europe and noted that in North America all fur products are clearly labeled as to type."
And for the record, LARRY KING LIVE also invited the Fur Commission, U.S.A. to appear on the show and they declined. They said they only represent mink.
Who would like to respond to that statement?
SEACREST: Yes sir. Go ahead.
MORAN: Ryan, one of the troubling things in that statement is this issue of domesticity. If you look at that film clip just before the dog is skinned alive, it is wagging its tail. It is a domesticated animal. It is trusting its human handler. That's why this is so easy for the people who are abusing these animals in such a cruel way and why it is so horrific because these dogs and cats trust humans. They are immediately accessible because they're not going to bite, they're not going to scratch and we take advantage of that -- the Chinese have -- to boil them, skin them alive. This is the kind of thing that worldwide we need to stop.
One of the things that we could do is the U.S. could take the lead and get the next international conference on customs policy together to urge an international ban and see if we couldn't get the Chinese government to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk when they think it's helpful to them.
They're being defensive right now but I don't think they're being particularly honest.
SEACREST: Well, it's the question. What can the U.S. do in terms of the global front?
KUCINICH: Well, first of all, you have to acknowledge, and the U.S. has banned the importation of dog and cat fur.
SEACREST: Federal law.
KUCINICH: Federal law. And I know that Heather, you have been working on trying to push the E.U. in that direction.
MCCARTNEY: Europe. And we need to take America -- we need to take America as an example of how they quickly put a ban through within a year on dog and cat fur so when people were worried about whether they bought fake fur because we found, through Rick and Manfred that even fake fur in Europe is actually dog and cat fur because it's cheaper to label it -- and to kill a dog.
SEACREST: So it would say "faux fur" ...
MCCARTNEY: To skin a dog alive than manufacture fake fur. So we have to have a European ban ... SEACREST: To the consumer though -- they think they are buying something that is not ...
MCCARTNEY: Fake fur. Yeah. And we found it in many different countries. We've had six countries ban it now. Switzerland with 80,000 petitions banned it three weeks ago. But we have to have a European ban. The sad thing is, the inhumanity of it all is irrelevant as far as the European Commission are concerned. It's all about consumer duping. So they're trying to say, well, let's get tougher labeling. But tougher labeling doesn't work. How can you check everybody's fur that comes through and DNA test it to see if it's dog and cat ...
BALDWIN: That's my question which was in the statement that you just read, they said that all of this fur is labeled and I'm wondering is that accurate? I mean, how much of this fur is accurately labeled?
SEACREST: Well, the law here says what about labeling? Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: First of all, there is a strict ban on importing dog and cat fur to the United States. Someone labels it falsely and they import it anyway and they send it to the United States, then they have violated the law. Now the thing that we have to do is to make sure is that we head off the objections that might be happening in the E.U. by going right to the World Trade Organization and say, look, this is an animal rights question that ought to be -- ought to have preference with all the other rights, worker rights, human rights, environmental quality principles, and that ought to be subject to agreements all over the world.
BALDWIN: I have a question for Rick Swain. Anybody at HSUS or at PETA or so forth, to their knowledge, how much falsely-labeled material is coming here from China right now?
SEACREST: Here to the U.S.?
SWAIN: You're absolutely correct. I mean, you hit a major point. When I was in China, I was accompanied, as you probably know, in many towns by a government minister and I saw a well-known American label on a coat hanging on a rack and I knew it was dog fur and I asked about it. I said, "What's with this label?" And the minister just laughed and said, "This is China, we'll put any label in it you want."
And we have as recently as within the past three months purchased cat fur out of China in Czechoslovakia.
SEACREST: What about here? What products would still be available to consumers here in the United States? Are they out there?
SWAIN: We've done random checks since we completed the original investigation at the Humane Society of the United States, but we are not finding much of it. MCCARTNEY: It's a great sign. That shows that the ban works, so if we can get a ban in Europe, then we're minimizing their sales and China need to realize that they are risking their high-end exports, so just put a law in where it's totally illegal.
SWAIN: That's why it stopped here, is because the people in the trade realized that they were risking their high-end business.
BALDWIN: And this also connects, in a way, to interdiction techniques they use with drugs in foreign countries as well. Smashing all the cocaine laboratories you want isn't going to solve the problem. And going over there and trying to enforce American law or influence trade law in China isn't going to make a difference. You've got to educate people in this country that when they buy a fur product they don't know what they're buying very often in this country.
SEACREST: Part of that process, as Heather pointed out, is looking at this videotape, and as I said earlier in the program, it's very difficult to watch. This was provided from PETA. It was shot this summer at a marketplace in southern China. Again, graphic video.
Heather, again, tell us exactly what is happening here. We have seen the dogs and the cats thrown from buses, and look at these pictures now. It's just unbelievable.
MCCARTNEY: I can't actually decide what's worse than the footage that I've seen, whether the skinning of an animal alive or transporting it in such inhumane conditions and they're throwing now --
SEACREST: Where are these pelts going? What is happening?
MCCARTNEY: They're coming over to Europe. They're coming over to Europe. And hopefully they're not coming into America because the ban has worked. And the worst thing is, the coats are the smallest amount. Most are being made into is all the trim, because Rick showed me Alsatian puppy and Golden Retriever and they dye it to look like fox, mink and sable, and they do all these things to it, and then they use it as trim and you think, oh, that feels nice and soft. And most people don't even know if it's fake fur or whatever it is in Europe.
SEACREST: We're going to get a break and come back. More on this very enlightening conversation after the break. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE on CNN.
SEACREST: Back on LARRY KING LIVE. The conversation about dog and cat fur trading globally and what might we buy unknowingly in the United States. I want to ask you guys about that in just a second. We've got quite a panel this evening and let me read you this statement provided to us by the International Fur Trade Federation. It points out that "In North America all fur products are clearly labeled as to fur type. It says, "In the USA, clear fur labeling is required under the Fur Product Labeling Act as to fur type and country of origin; in Canada, the accuracy of information on fur labels is required under the provisions of the Competition Act."
What is possible here in the U.S.? Is it possible for us, right now, to go out and purchase something that unknowingly is dog or cat fur?
SEACREST: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: Well, we know there's a ban, but at the same time, even though there's a ban on dog and cat fur, for purchase in this country or even sending it to this country, it is possible that people could unknowingly make such purchases so what we have to do is to make for wiser consumers. I mean, we're coming into a season where people are going to be making all kinds of purchases. They're going to be looking for things that have fur trim -- allegedly fake fur trim.
They need to ask questions as to, where did it come from, what is it made of? It is going to require the -- as Jim Moran mentioned earlier, the Customs Department to become more involved in looking at what kind of material is being sent here.
SEACREST: Is there a loophole at all in the law? Because I know certain products under $150 do not require the same labeling as those over $150.
MCCARTNEY: And that's the scariest thing, because dog and cat fur is so cheap. It is cheaper to manufacture -- to kill a dog alive and use that as cheap fur than it is to --
SEACREST: Congressman Moran, do we have a loophole that we need to address?
MORAN: Ryan, I do think that there is some flaw in this law. We have made more progress than a number of the nations we've referred to, but I think Dennis would agree that there are some ways in which we could refine the law to make it more effective.
This cap of $150 that says that if a product is valued at less than $150, it doesn't have to be labeled, that is a flaw, a loophole in the law, because a lot of these products, of course, because it is cheap fur, are going to be considerably less than 150. Figurines, for example, the little dogs and cats that have fur on them, that can actually be dog and cat fur if we're not careful. Glove lining, for example, most gloves are under $150.
So these are things that we could do to improve that law and hopefully serve as an example for other countries to apply more scrutiny as well.
BALDWIN: But also, you were mentioning, can people inadvertently or unknowingly be purchasing these products in this country? U.S. officials, government officials, trade officials, trade associations are not over there in China watching everything they're doing, nor could we be. The Chinese, as we've been told, are sending products over here and they are mislabeling products.
The smartest thing that people in this country can do is, if you don't understand the origin of the fur in the products you're buying, don't buy that product. Don't buy it.
SEACREST: We've mentioned that the holiday season is coming up.
MCCARTNEY: One thing is that people don't know that this dog and cat fur can be on toys.
SEACREST: With the holidays coming, more and more toys are purchased than at any other time of the year.
MCCARTNEY: I mean, we did tests, and there's chromium toxicity levels at 12 times higher.
SEACREST: What kind of toys?
MCCARTNEY: Just little fluffy toys from China.
BALDWIN: Dolls, animals, anything that has fur products on them. Again, I think that when -- we've talked about this before when we were in the greenroom before we did the show -- one of the issues when you deal with animal protection issues is there are certain things you are never going to be able outlaw. And it's tough. It's painful to say to people, you're never going to be able to outlaw inhumane hunting practices. You can try, but you're never going to be able to outlaw hunting, per se. You're never going to be able to outlaw people wearing fur. We're not telling people, Don't wear fur. I would prefer that they not wear fur. But we're saying to them, if you don't understand the origin of the fur that's in the product that you're buying, don't buy that product.
SEACREST: Because it could be a domestic animal.
BALDWIN: There's a very good chance that it could be a mislabeled product.
KUCINICH: Because they're working to defeat the labeling.
SEACREST: Some more tape now. Again, be warned viewers, you may find it disturbing. This time you're going to find out what happens to cats. Rick, you've seen it. Tell us about this.
Where are we here?
SWAIN: You're in the Philippines, now. This is actually the second time this particular company -- they were closed down after this investigation was done. But you're seeing two cats out of a crate that originally contained about 15, and they know what's going to happen. They're taken and pulled against the top of the crate and strangled.
Again, the idea is to preserve the fur. It's not about a humane end for the animal. That's the original crate.
MCCARTNEY: And this is for fashion. How could anybody want to wear something for fashion?
BALDWIN: And when you get into that -- and I blame you because you've got me so worked up about this -- and that, is when you look at people who wear for fur products and you say them, the history of fur -- you look at the history of people who skinned animals and wore the skins of animals to protect themselves against the elements, because there were no synthetic fibers that accomplish that as well as we have now. There's no excuse to wear fur today, other than vanity. There is none. You can purchase synthetic products that will guard you against cold weather and will protect you against cold weather better than any animal skin can.
SEACREST: Is there any aspect, culturally -- if you think about these places, we're talking about some remote regions of Asia -- culturally, do dogs and cats just mean less to these people?
SWAIN: Ryan, we --
MCCARTNEY: Obviously so with the way they're treating them. They could be picking them up gently and doing it humanely.
KUCINICH: The question we have to ask here is, what do they mean to us? Because we're called upon to set a higher standard and that's what we're trying to do and as people see on a program like this, you will have a million more activists in the United States who start to ask questions, demand accurate labeling and demand enforcement of existing laws and as Jim Moran says, if we need to we'll improve existing laws.
SEACREST: In Washington, jump in before the break.
SWAIN: Ryan, this isn't in remote -- just in remote areas. We found the product in Beijing, we found it all over China and the labeling solution is ridiculous. As I stated before, they'll put any label on it that you want.
BALDWIN: And -- go ahead.
MCCARTNEY: And we're buying it, so we're to blame. It's not about just what they're doing. We are buying it for fashion and we are to blame.
SWAIN: It's an economic point and Heather and Alec are absolutely right. It's economically driven. If people didn't buy the product, this wouldn't be happening in China.
SEACREST: All right. Let me get a break -- we'll come back and we'll continue with this conversation. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Stay with us.
SEACREST: Welcome back. I'm Ryan Seacrest in for Larry King tonight. We're talking about the horrific abuse of dogs and cats for the sake of their fur. If you're just joining us, you should know that we'll be showing undercover video from places where these domestic animals are brutally killed for their pelts. Some of the video is far too graphic to air and viewers, please be warned, when we roll this, it is definitely disturbing.
Alec, you wanted to talk about the cultural aspects, specifically China and around the world?
BALDWIN: I think it would be unfortunate if people left this program thinking that this is something that is unique to the Chinese, that animal cruelty -- this is just where that light has been cast now on this dog and cat fur issue coming from China. Here in this country in terms of meat production and poultry production and so forth, we have plenty of blame to go around in this country for how cruelly we treat animals in this country in terms of the food supply.
So I don't want people to think, well, it's these heathen Chinese that are doing this with dogs and cats. The issue for me is that you want people to understand that although you can't outlaw fur and although we urge people to only wear products in which the fur is harmed humanely, where there is doubts, don't buy it. And right now there are serious, serious doubts about the fur production industry and what's coming over from the Chinese.
MCCARTNEY: And we've had a huge majority of people go on the Web site from China and Chinese Americans appalled at what's going on in their own country. So it's not a sweeping statement that all Chinese are like that. Far from it. They're really behind -- they don't want to have this going on --
BALDWIN: They have animal rights activists of their own.
MCCARTNEY: -- in their own country at all. In fact, some of the key people involved in this investigation were Chinese women who could never, ever be named who wanted the world to know what was going on in their country. It didn't get out any other way.
SEACREST: Rick, in Washington. How did you get in to get this video?
SWAIN: Actually, most of the video was shot with an open camera. And as someone mentioned earlier, you don't want to be caught with an undercover camera in mainland China. But we posed as fur wholesalers and product marketers, saying that we wanted to develop a new product line and we were looking at the capabilities of these individual companies to supply that product. And in this case it was fur, and we had them show us virtually every fur they had. We happened to be interested in the less expensive fur, which was dog and cat.
SEACREST: Let me show you some more tape, now -- dogs being readied for slaughter. Again, a viewer warning. It is tough to watch. Rick, you can go ahead and narrate this a little bit, too. When was this exactly, this video that we're seeing, and where specifically again?
SWAIN: This is Harbin in 1998, 1999 and what you're seeing is -- Harbin is in northern China, it's very cold and it's a very popular place for harvesting dog and cat fur because the coat gets so thick and again it's the economic situation. It's about -- if nobody bought this product it wouldn't be happening.
SEACREST: Congressman Kucinich -- 1998, what were you doing? What happened then? Because the push for this legislation came about -- and it was passed quickly.
KUCINICH: It was, after we saw the Humane Society investigation results, and a weatherman in Cleveland by the name of Dick Goddard, took up the banner. I worked with him. I created, with the help of some of my legislative friends -- 98 members of Congress signed on to the Dog and Cat Protection Act -- and we incorporated that into a trade bill and got it passed.
SEACREST: Does 1998 seem late (INAUDIBLE)?
KUCINICH: 2000 is when the bill actually passed.
SEACREST: But that was the investigation -- I mean, that seems late. Why not sooner?
KUCINICH: Because it was the first time that somebody was able to get in with a camera, and once the films started to be shown, people all over said, We've got to do something about it. That's why members of Congress became involved. And I was privileged to be one of those, working with Jim Moran and others, who carried the ball. Congressman Kleczka from Wisconsin, Congressman Crane from Illinois -- we all came together in a bipartisan efforts, closed ranks and said, We're going to stop this, and we folded the Dog and Cat Protection Act into the trade bill in 2000. And now we have a ban in the United States.
BALDWIN: I just want to mention, quickly -- I would imagine -- and you can speak to this, but this has been my experience. But animal protection issues and animal rights issues are tough to get on the legislative agenda, because a lot more important things, people presume, are happening in the country right now with the war and the economy.
It seems to me that animal protection issues always --
KUCINICH: I think that what we both know, and what we all know here is once the public understands what's happening --
MCCARTNEY: We need to use America as a role model to get a ban in Europe, because all that's happened is everything that was coming to America is coming right over to Europe, and so the animals are still being skinned alive, it's not just about -- OK, they're not coming in here. If you care about the animals, they're still being skinned alive and they're still being pushed over to Europe and we need to push on Europe to use America as an example that this can be done, and be done very quickly.
SEACREST: Rick, did you have something from Washington?
MORAN: It's Jim Moran. SEACREST: It's Jim.
MORAN: Let me first say that if more of my colleagues were of the heart and mind of Dennis Kucinich, this would be a much better world to live in. But that experience in '98 with Dennis' leadership, to think that a law like that could be passed within the small scope of a couple of years and signed by President Clinton, means that it's all that more inexcusable for the European Union to not take such action itself.
The European Union can make an enormous difference, because after Russia it's the E.U. now that imports the most dog and cat fur and they really have no excuse now not to take that lead. And they have seen the same video. The European parliament has passed it, so that's the next step. But beyond that, I think in the United States we could deal with higher penalties for mislabeling. For example rabbit fur, or wild cat is often domestic cat, Asian jackal is often domestic dog.
We could do that and we could eliminate that $150 cap. Those would be some refinements. But the main thrust of today's program has got to be that the E.U. really needs to stand up and do the right thing for the rest of Europe.
SEACREST: Point taken. We're going to get a break and come back. More on this very enlightening conversation after the break. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE on CNN.
SEACREST: Back with LARRY KING LIVE. A tough topic tonight. A very interesting hour, but definitely tough to talk about.
Let me ask you, Alec, why is it important for Hollywood to create awareness, to get involved with issues like this?
BALDWIN: Well, I work in this business now, in this day and age in which we have the almost fully-evolved model actress. You look at the culture and in the music business, as much as the film and television industry, as you well know, where women and what they wear is a role model to millions, if not tens of millions, of young people out there. And most of the actresses I know want to be on the covers of magazines as models, just like most of the models want to be in film and television as actresses.
So this style quotient and how that speaks to generations of young people is of incredible importance. Now, PETA has done a good job -- and this is one of the main reasons I work with an organization like PETA -- of tracking that cultural impact in this country in the entertainment industry, as to who wears fur and why and who's selling fur. And PETA has had situations in which people have disavowed fur and then they turn around and two, three, five years later, they're advertising, they're wearing fur in a video of theirs and so forth.
So people in my business, especially women, especially young women who are on the covers of magazines and so forth, they have a tremendous amount of influence on their audience and what they wear, and I think that this fur issue is something that -- it keeps popping up every now and then in the culture.
And number two, the thing that keeps coming back to me is that, in this society, what really resonates with the dog and cat issue, I think, from China, is that, in our society, people's relationship with animals has become very, very compartmentalized. Most people, the realtionship they have with an animal is either as a pet, as an animated figure in a motion picture or an idealized live-action figure in a motion picture -- which is all kind of unreal -- or as a cooked meal on a plate. They don't have any ongoing day-to-day relationship with animals in any way. Animals are something that's over there in another zip code that other people are tending to.
You used to have a relationship with the man that butchered your meat 100 years ago. You knew these people. Now, your food is all being prepared by people that you never know and you never see. And it's all done on faith, with the government intervening on your behalf, hopefully, with the USDA.
And my point is, is that this issue with China resonates with a lot of people because many people have a dog and a cat; they have a pet.
SEACREST: Right. It's a domestic animal, dogs and cats.
BALDWIN: It is a domestic -- that's unfortunate that it's taking the light off of the electrocution techniques that have been used on foxes and minks for years. This has been --
SEACREST: This hits home in a mainstream way.
BALDWIN: This hits home with people because millions upon millions of people in this country have a dog or a cat as a pet, and when you show them this footage of what's being done in China, how they're abusing these animals, it hits home with them.
SEACREST: Let me roll some more video -- a look at some of the awful conditions dogs live in.
Rick, tell us about what we're looking at here.
SWAIN: What you're seeing is this is how the dogs are kept, bred, et cetera, and one of the reasons the fur is so cheap is because they need so little care. They commonly carry them in these sacks, whether it's a dog or a cat -- that's the traditional method of carrying them and I think it protects the carrier, etc.
SEACREST: Is it true that Golden Retrievers are also involved in this -- German Shepherds -- that they're skinned, and they could be -- these products could be sold using their fur right now?
MCCARTNEY: Absolutely. In Europe, definitely. But since the ban's come in in America, there is no proof being found. You'd have to go in every single shop and DNA test everything.
SEACREST: We've talked about the E.U. a lot and Europe. What is a consumer to do if they're in doubt -- they don't know -- they bought something, they don't know, maybe it says faux? What do they do?
MCCARTNEY: If you're in doubt, you can't have it proven to you 100 percent, don't buy it. It's not there -- you're not climbing Mt. Everest. Even the people that climb Mt. Everest climb in Gore-Tex. It's purely for fashion. So make your heart-felt choice. Do you want that fur-lined pair of gloves so desperately you're willing to risk the fact that it could be dog and cat fur, or do you not care and you have to live with that karma.
SEACREST: Alec, as we wrap up tonight, your final thought and point?
BALDWIN: I think that, rather than having people worry about dog and cat fur in less expensive fur items -- because as I said earlier, this issue about dog and cat fur importation from China takes the light off of the overall fur issue -- and rather than have it be just isolated to the dog and cat issue, I would encourage people that if you really want your conscience to be clean on this issue, don't buy any fur of any kind in any product at any price ever, and then you won't have a problem.
SEACREST: Congressman Kucinich, what do you do from here?
KUCINICH: We look at the law and see if we can tighten it up. We also look at getting the Chinese embassy involved. They made a statement earlier that this isn't something they really advocate. Well, let's not just take them at their word, let's sit down with them, come up with a plan that would stop this practice from happening in China or any other place, and also see if they would be willing to submit to inspections where we would be able to verify the progress that they seem to like to make.
SEACREST: Access. You want access.
SEACREST: In Washington, Congressman Moran, your final thoughts tonight.
MORAN: Well, I am sure that there are going to be some of your listeners -- viewers, Ryan, that will think we're all out there on the fringe, caring so much about dogs and cats but I would urge them to just reflect on the role, the interdependence, we humans have with dogs and cats.
For example, blind people and their dependence upon German Shepherds and other seeing-eye dogs, the fact that the elderly live so much longer if they have a dog or cat as a pet -- studies show that. At the dawn and the dusk of life, children's relationship with their pets and seniors relationship with their pets mean so much.
And these are the same kinds of animals are being so needlessly and cruelly slaughtered. I think it affects everyone and I wish that we would get a mass mobilization throughout this planet to end this kind of cruelty. SEACREST: And Rick, thank you very much for sharing that video. It is, as we said all night, tough to watch, but it makes an impact and we appreciate that.
That is our show tonight. We hope something good comes of it. Thanks as always to Larry King for letting me borrow his chair for the night. Stick around now as the news continues right here on CNN.
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