By  on March 14, 2007

WASHINGTON — The Humane Society petitioned the Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday to investigate and enforce alleged violations of the Fur Products Labeling Act by 14 retailers and brands, including Macy's, J.C. Penney, Michael Kors and Andrew Marc.

The petition alleges that the companies "are now or have been engaged in the manufacturing or selling of fur garments that are falsely or misleadingly advertised and/or labeled either as faux fur; genuine raccoon or coyote, or rabbit fur when, in fact, the garments include fur from members of the canine family, such as domestic dog, wolf or raccoon dog."

The fox-size raccoon dog, which is native to Asia, has fur resembling that of a raccoon.

The Humane Society asked the trade commission to seize misrepresented goods, begin proceedings for injunctive relief and impose fines that can range to as much as $5,000 per violation.

Such petitions are reviewed by the agency and may lead to an investigation, a position paper or a ruling.

According to the petition, a large number of dogs, cats and other animals are subject to inhumane and unacceptable conditions in China, which accounts for about half of all the fur apparel shipped to the U.S.

The Humane Society said its investigation found a proliferation of mislabeled and falsely advertised fur that caused some brands, including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, as well as Burlington Coat Factory, to take corrective steps.

A spokesman for Macy's corporate parent, Federated Department Stores, who had not seen the petition, said the company had a policy not to sell any dog or cat fur.

"That policy is clearly communicated to all our suppliers and all of our supplier contracts require that products be labeled accurately," the spokesman said. "Any violations of policies or contracts are pursued vigorously with suppliers and any inappropriate or inaccurately labeled products are removed immediately from our stores and online sites."

A Penney's spokeswoman said, "When we learned that some jacket styles we were offering had labels that incorrectly identified the type of fur used for the trim, we corrected the labels by removing the potentially misleading language, in compliance with FTC standards. To prevent an incident of species misidentification from happening in the future, we have implemented even more rigorous procedures with our suppliers [so that] our labels are correct."A Michael Kors spokesman said, "Our investigation reflects that the allegations by the Humane Society of mislabeling and the use of raccoon dog are incorrect."

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