Macy's Sheds Its Dog-Fur Coats

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Macy's (M) has settled a suit with the Humane Society of the United States over claims that its stores sold coats made with dog fur, announced the animal-protection organization.

Under the settlement, the parent of Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores will hold its suppliers to stricter labeling standards for fur and fur-trimmed clothing, change its advertising of those items and support a federal law with tighter labeling requirements for furs.

Raccoon-Dog Pelts

Macy's was the last company to settle with the Humane Society, which sued several retailers, claiming their advertisements falsely described their fur coats and other fur-trimmed outerwear. According to the suits, the stores advertised coats made with raccoon-dog pelts as being faux furs or made with other animal furs such as raccoon or coyote.

Raccoon dogs are a breed native to Asia, related to domestic dogs but with markings similar to raccoons. They're raised in China for their fur. The Humane Society -- which opposes fur wearing in general -- alleges it has documented instances where Chinese manufacturers have skinned dogs alive to use their pelts for coats.

"We are obviously pleased to have the issue settled and will be expecting our vendors to be complying with the labeling," says Macy's spokesman Jim Sluzewski.

The Humane Society filed complaints in 2008 with the Federal Trade Commission against retailers including Saks (SKS), Macy's and Neiman Marcus after its own tests on furs found raccoon- and domestic-dog pelts were used in mislabeled coats on sale at various stores under names such as Burberry.

Complaints against Saks, Lord & Taylor and manufacturer Andrew Marc were settled earlier this year. The Humane Society won a judgment against Neiman Marcus last month in Superior Court in the District of Columbia, and the retailer was ordered to pay $25,000 in damages and costs and stop mislabeling furs.

New Labeling Legislation

Congress is now considering legislation to close an exemption in the Fur Products Labeling Act of 1951 that keeps items with less than $150 worth of fur from being subject to the law's requirements.

Under the settlement, the retailers have agreed to support the legislation, The Truth in Fur Labeling Act of 2009. The act was introduced in the House and Senate last May and referred to the committees in both houses, where it's still pending.
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