BURLINGTON, N.J. — Burlington Coat Factory, the nation's largest coat retailer, pulled hundreds of men's parkas from its stores after a vendor admitted they were trimmed with fur from slaughtered dogs.
The Humane Society of the United States objected after an investigation and said the coat controversy was part of an extensive international trade in pelts of domesticated dogs.
Stephanie Kenyon, a spokeswoman for the Fur Information Council of America in Washington, condemned the practice of using cat or dog fur in garments, though federal law doesn't prohibit it.
"Our position is that dog and cat fur should not be sold in the United States," she said. "Culturally, it goes against our grain to do so. It's just not something we want to see happening."
Ric Bramble, a spokesman for 250-store Burlington Coat, said Tuesday a vendor admitted the coats included fur from dogs slaughtered in China.
"When we found about this, we were very angry," he said. "We were outraged that a substitution was made and that the purchase order actually called for coyote trim and it was something else."
In a report released Tuesday, the Humane Society said the fur is making its way into the United States in products ranging from gloves and scarves to parkas and trinkets.
Millions of dogs and cats in China and other countries are being treated cruelly and slaughtered for their fur using barbaric methods, according to the Humane Society.
Investigators posing as U.S. fur importers said dogs and cats in Asia are hanged, bludgeoned, clubbed or bled to death for their fur, the Humane Society said.
"While we expected that some dogs and cats were being killed for fur, we had no idea the numbers reached into the millions," said Patricia Forkan, the executive vice president who oversaw the investigation.
Burlington Coat, with stores in 42 states, sold about 140 of the parkas, and customers are being offered a refund or store credit, Bramble said.
He said the company bought 480 of the dog-fur-trimmed parkas.