Every single year, over a billion animals are slaughtered in the name of leather. The last time you bought a pretty leather purse or a shiny pair of leather shoes, did you think about where that leather came from? Most of us don’t and if we did, chances are we’d purchase a lot less leather.
Leather sounds fancy, clean and nice, but in reality it’s terribly cruel. Leather = skin. And there’s no way to tell if that skin originates from a cow, sheep, dog or cat. Many assume that leather is a byproduct of the meat industry, and while some leather does come from cows used for meat and milk in the US, even more leather comes from China and India.
Holly C. Freeman via EarthPrintsOnDemand.com
China uses dog and cat skin to make wallets, purses, belts, shoes and so forth, many of which end up for sale in the US. Somewhere between 10 and 20 million dogs are killed in China every single year. The skin of these animals plays a huge role in the leather industry, which is why we’d be willing to bet at least some of your leather goods are made from dog skin.
The innocent and adorable dogs pictured above were awaiting slaughter in Korea.
Thanks to the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000, it’s technically illegal to ship dog and cat fur and skin to the US, with fines totaling up to $10,000 for perpetrators. Yet, since there’s no easy way to identify where leather originates, it’s assumed that countless dogs and cats are funneled into leather goods sold in the US.
Clearly, dogs make far better pets than purses.
Photography by Bobi via EarthPrintsOnDemand.com
No matter where your bag is manufactured or how much you pay for it, there’s no way to know what animal(s) lost their life to manufacture it. Not to mention, the slaughterhouses around the world and in the US use terribly cruel tactics to kill animals. Undercover footage has revealed terrified animals beaten and skinned alive.
While Americans tend to have more sympathy for dogs, as much as 47% of people in the US have a pet dog, cows deserve respect too. Chances are you’d adore cows too if only you had the chance to get to know one.
India has animal protection laws, but they are rarely enforced. Every single day, more and more cows are marched to their deaths through brutal heat and with no food or water. If cattle collapse, they are beaten until they start moving again. Transporters break tails and rub chili peppers in eyes, whatever it takes to keep cattle moving. Do you really want to purchase a purse made from the skin of these unfairly tortured animals?
The process of turning skin into leather presents yet another set of issues. The low-wage workers that do the job are exposed to dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and coal-tar derivatives.
Numerous studies have found a large increase in cancer rates amongst people that work in a tannery or even live near one. Leather-tannery workers in Italy and Sweden were found to have increased cancer risks “between 20% and 50% above [those] expected.”
If only the shiny polished handbags and other leather goods showcased in stores around the world showed their true origins. You’d see cats, dogs, cows and sheep that were brutally tortured in the name of materialism. You’d see poor workers suffering from cancer with no money for proper treatment. And you’d see the taxing effect the production of leather has on our environment.
You don’t have to contribute to the ugly brutality. The only way to ensure none of the leather goods you purchase come from dogs, or other mistreated animals, is to avoid purchasing leather altogether. You can help promote social change by simply boycotting leather whenever possible and shopping for vegan goods. Brands like Matt and Nat and Stella McCartney offer cruelty-free vegan handbags and shoes.
Knowledge is power.