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I’ve never given much thought to the fur controversy that pops up from time to time because I had never owned any until last winter when my sister gave me a pair of UGGS. I remember being asked whether they were real or not, and when I said they were, the person responded that they had purchased a fake pair online that saved them a hundred bucks or so and nobody could tell the difference. The shoes may look the same in appearance but the process that goes into making the real boots and the knock-offs is totally different.

A recent report in The Daily Mail broke down the differences between UGGS and Internet fakes, and even though the article mentions raccoon dogs being farmed in horrific conditions in China and skinned alive for their fur, I didn’t get it until I watched this video from an Animal Cruelty organization called Swiss Animal Protection.

 

I can honestly still hear the sound of the dogs being slapped against the ground and it makes me feel sick to my stomach. That says a lot coming from me. I’m not an animal lover by any means but the cruelty that these raccoon dogs are subjected to is truly disturbing. I’m amazed at the inhumanity of these bootleggers, but the fact of the matter is that there is a market for these products and money often outweighs morals.

In addition to the beatings and skinning’s that the animals are subjected to, the workers creating these knock-offs are also treated unfairly. They are drastically underpaid, and work in unsanitary tanneries or sweatshops to create the “perfect gift” for someone in the United States to purchase as a Christmas present without giving a second thought to how the product came about. Or do we just not care?

I won’t pretend to be the most conscious consumer, but I don’t know how you could purchase a pair off knock-off boots without doing your homework after seeing this type of footage. Fur coats are the typical culprit in these types of discussions but this is an issue much more pertinent to our generation. On its website, UGG Australia warns against counterfeit products, but it’s up to consumers here to eliminate the market for these and many other bootleg products that give into consumerism at any cost. The matter at hand begs the question of whether the savings seen on the consumer side are worth the price that these dogs and Chinese workers are paying?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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