Graphic pictures and a video (below) of raccoon dogs being skinned alive in China to make cheap imitation Ugg boots recently surfaced on the web. In scenes filmed by animal rights campaigners, the raccoon dogs are beaten with sticks and are writhing as workers cut them open and skin them.
The animals are then thrown on a pile and can take up to three hours to die. The slow skinning process and begins from the feet up. The workers even stand on the animals' heads if they struggle too much.
Real Ugg boots, made from Australian sheepskin, can cost $250, but these imitation pairs are much cheaper and have flooded the market, especially in the U.K.
An investigation by the Humane Society International (HSI) found a pair of imitation Ugg boots to contain raccoon dog fur, even though they were labeled 'Australian sheepskin.' HSI director Verna Simpson said dozens of products, aside from the boots, use imported raccoon dog fur and dog fur.
Animal hair identification expert Han Brunner confirmed the boots contained raccoon dog fur: "They have been labeled Australian merino fur and that was on the inside of the boot, on the outside there were hairs from the raccoon dog."
"I think surely that should make an impact on customs especially after the cattle slaughtering in Indonesia, dog raccoons are skinned alive and the carcass is thrown on a heap when they are still alive."
Head of Ugg Australia Lena McDonald told the Herald Sun that there were up to 40 products using the word 'Ugg,' but that few were made in Australia and many used overseas materials: "As far as I can see many of these boots are not made in Australia at all, yet they have the word Australia and Ugg on them. Labeling laws in Australia are a little bit grey and we have seen companies cutting off tags saying 'made in China' and the 'Australian made' tag put on it."
While the killing of these animals is brutal (in the video below), Pamela Anderson has come out against wearing real Uggs. Ironically, she was a catalyst for the shoe becoming so popular in the U.S. -- but she condemed wearing real Uggs when she learned they were made with sheepskin.