P Diddy rapped for selling coats made from dog pelts

Store pulls 'designer' items off shelves after 'fake fur' claim is proved wrong

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P Diddy, the king of bling and a fashion inspiration to millions of hip hop fans, has been heavily criticised for selling designer coats made with fur from dogs. The animals, from China, are killed using barbaric methods.

Multi-millionaire Diddy - real name Sean Combs - has been selling the coats under his designer label Sean John. A £122 hooded snorkel jacket was being sold through the Macy's department store's website with an "imitation rabbit fur collar".

But when customers took delivery they found that the jacket carried the wording "genuine raccoon fur". Tests conducted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), America's largest animal charity, found that the fur actually came from raccoon dogs, which are found across Asia but raised in huge numbers in China specifically for their pelts.

Undercover footage of raccoon dog slaughter and fur production in China filmed by the charity revealed the "gruesome" way the animals are treated.

Kristin Leppert, fur campaign manager for the HSUS, said: "It is a really gruesome process. They are raised in intensive confinement and they are not even unconscious when they are rendered.

"They grab the animals' back legs and throw them down to the ground hitting their head and their bodies - then they hang them up while they are still alive. Our video shows the pile of bodies afterwards and their eyes are still blinking and their heads are still moving. There are millions of them raised and killed in China because there are no animal welfare laws."

Wayne Pacelle, the president of the HSUS, added: "It is well documented that the killing of animals in China for their fur is inhumane and barbaric. Fur is a messy business and China ranks as the leading exporter of fur."

Yesterday, Diddy pledged to remove the fur from his range immediately. Macy's - one of the best known retailers in the world - last week also pulled the jackets from its shelves.

In a victory for anti-fur campaigners, Macy's yesterday pledged to use fake fur trims in the future manufacture of the coats.

A spokesman for the retailer said it removed the jackets when the issue came to its attention: "Our company has a standing policy against the selling of any dog or cat fur. This policy is clearly communicated to all suppliers. Any violation of our policies or contracts is pursued vigorously with our suppliers."

P Diddy said yesterday that he had no knowledge that dog fur was being used and promised fake fur would be used in future: "I was completely unaware of the nature of this material, but as soon as we were alerted, the garments were pulled off the Macy's floor and website. I have instructed our outerwear licensee to cease the production of any garments using this material immediately."

Chrissie Hynde, the musician and animal rights campaigner, said the Sean John case was part of an emerging trend: "Fur has definitely been sneaking back in the form of trim. Now there are all these young people following this "bling" culture that is totally materially based. There is a smash-and-grab mentality and there's no room for thinking about animals."

The Independent On Sunday has been campaigning to end the use of fur from cruelly treated animals and for the introduction of a clear labelling system.

Price of fur: Dogs are skinned alive

The raccoon dogs killed to line the hoods of Sean John coats are bred mainly in China, where fur farmers hold about four million of their pelts. They are so named because of their resemblance to the smaller furry mammal, although they are only distantly related. Animal welfare campaigners say many of the dogs are stunned and then skinned while still alive.

Fur Campaign: What we are demanding

1. An end to the use of fur from animals which are cruelly treated, for example the two million cats and dogs raised in poor conditions for their fur in China or seals that are inhumanely slaughtered.

2. A halt to the practice of farming animals taken from the wild, such as foxes and mink, which are denied the basic freedoms they need and suffer distress when killed.

3. We want a universal system of labelling for fur, which clearly states its type and origin.

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