What’s labeled ‘faux’ should be just that. The origin of this word is French and it's translated to mean “imitation.” Used as an adjective, it most often precedes a noun as a descriptor for an object, event or character that is ‘not the real deal.’ In the case of ‘faux fur,’ a garment can range from every-day wear to haute couture. However, it should not come from a fur-covered animal and if it does, it should never be marketed as ‘faux fur.’ Unfortunately in the case of ‘raccoon dogs’ that is not the case, and definitely a practice that should be banned.
Tanu, the Tanuki
Tanu is a tanuki, a Japanese species sometimes referred to as a ‘raccoon dog.’ This animal is best known for appearing in the classic Super Mario Brothers' game where the fictionalized version [Tanooki Mario] is a trickster god with giant testicles [there’s an entire Tom Robbins novel, Villa Incognito based on this legend.]
When photos of the real-life Tanu playing in the snow were posted on Twitter back in January by @chibi_tori, this adorable little critter started stealing the hearts of the Twitterati. After a write-up on BuzzFeed and some animal advocacy pubs, this tanuki quickly became a trending topic, and now the whole world is inevitably mad about Tanu — the adorable racoon-dog-mut-mix of a creature — with the giant testes.
Know your Fur
Of the course of the last five years, it’s come to the world's attention that tanukis are being pawned off as ‘faux fur’ to skirt the anti-fur movement in the States.
Important to note, the “raccoon” in their name is just a descriptor. It refers to their stripes and markings. In actuality, this animal is a different species all together. Raccoon dogs are of the canid species — meaning they’re part of the same family as domestic dogs, wolves and foxes.
Unfortunately however, they are hunted and farmed for their fur in several countries. China and Finland supply most of the raccoon dog fur that hits the shelves in the U.S., according to an 2015 report by the Humane Society of the United States [HSUS].
The HSUS found raccoon dog fur at retailers across the nation, where garments still sell, even as full-length coats go out of style, and anti-fur movements by PETA and other animal advocacy groups mount.
For a decade, HSUS investigations have exposed this deceit by suing companies and petitioning the Federal Trade Commission to impose fines and jail time.
The organization has also asked that the name “raccoon dog” needs to appear on labels, versus the incorrect monikers, such as: “faux fur” or "Asiatic fur." These efforts are motivating greater transparency and a mind-set change in the industry.
In 2010, Congress passed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act, which requires all fur trim, however small the amount, to be listed on the label. Many of the companies that the HSUS has caught deceiving consumers have pledged to stop selling animal fur, while U.S. imports and sales of fur apparel have fallen by more than thirty percent.
What you can do . . .
In China, though, live skinning still goes on, so it's extremely important to know the source of the garments you purchase at furriers and retail shops.
Additionally, you can help promote the outlets, which are no longer selling fur. As consumers, shop only at stores with fur-free policies, and if you know of a retail shop that does not sell fur, but is not listed here, ask them to send their fur-free policy by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.