(Daily Mail By OLIVER PICKUP) - These sickening images show raccoon dogs being skinned alive to make cheap imitation Ugg boots bought by thousands of Britons.
The original footwear is made from high-quality Australian sheepskin, taken from animals slaughtered humanely, but this footage shows the brutal treatment of creatures in China whose fur is used to make the fake boots.
The raccoon dogs are shown skinned, but still alive and moving, in the distressing scenes filmed by animal rights campaigners. Thrown on a pile, they can take up to three hours to die.
The terrified animals are beaten with sticks and are seen kicking and writhing as the men cut them open and skin them.
The skinning process is agonizingly slow and begins from the feet up. The workers are filmed standing on the animals’ heads if they struggle too much.
The video, uploaded on to YouTube by animalwelfare1 and associated with Swiss Animal Protection / EAST international, then shows the skinned animals being tossed alive on to a pile of dead and dying raccoon dogs.
The MailOnline has chosen not to include the video, as it is too shocking.
One raccoon dog - an indigenous Asian species related to foxes and dogs - is shown lifting its head to the camera briefly before falling back down on the mound of corpses, still breathing.
The shocking footage, published in the Herald Sun, has sparked outrage and has led activists to demand a ban on the raccoon dog trade.
Imitation Ugg boots have flooded the market worldwide and are widely available online and at outlets. Many are imported into Britain.
In Australia, where Uggs - which cost up to £200 - originate, there has been a ban on the import of domestic dog and cat fur since 2004, but raccoon dog fur is still brought in.
An investigation by the Humane Society International (HSI) found a pair of imitation Ugg boots to contain raccoon dog fur, even though they were labeled ‘Australian sheepskin’.
HSI director Verna Simpson said dozens of products, aside from the boots, use imported raccoon dog fur - and in other cases dog fur.
Animal hair identification expert Han Brunner confirmed the boots contained raccoon dog fur and called for the government to crack down on the trade.
Mr Brunner told news.com.au: ‘There is no doubt they have mislabeled these items and customs refuse to do anything.
‘They have been labeled Australian merino fur and that was on the inside of the boot, on the outside there were hairs from the raccoon dog.
‘I think surely that should make an impact on customs especially after the cattle slaughtering in Indonesia - dog raccoons are skinned alive and the carcass is thrown on a heap when they are still alive.’
Earlier this year footage of the treatment of Australian livestock in Indonesian abattoirs led to a temporary export ban.
Head of Ugg Australia Lena McDonald said that the use of raccoon dog fur by other brands had tarnished the entire industry.
She said there were up to 40 products using the word ‘Ugg’ but that few were made in Australia and many used overseas materials.
‘As far as I can see many of these boots are not made in Australia at all yet they have the word Australia and Ugg on them,’ she told the Herald Sun.
‘Labeling laws in Australia are a little bit grey and we have seen companies cutting off tags saying “made in China” and the Australian made tag put on it.’
An Australian customs spokeswoman said the government took the importation of illegal fur seriously but was awaiting further information before stating its position on the importation of raccoon dog fur.