Buyer beware: That new leather jacket might be made of cat or dog skin

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Charis Brown is the Deals Editor for She enjoys saving money wherever possible and never pays full price for anything. Her favorite discount store is Nordstrom Rack, where she once bought something for $.01! Charis is also the author of TGIF Next Gen daily devotional and lives with her husband and cat near Atlanta, GA.

If you've bought any leather items from China or plan to in the future, you'll want to know they may not be made out of pigskin like you think.

Read more: Ordering from China? Buyer beware

Details from a disturbing new report

The Guardian recently published a story about the fact that although there are international laws against using dogs or cats for imported leather goods, there is really no way to differentiate between the items.

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The article states:

The US banned the importation of dog and cat fur and skin, which is punishable by fines up to $10,000, as part of the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000. But distinguishing dog and cat leather from cow, sheep and pig leather is no easy matter, making it possible for unscrupulous manufacturers to pass off leather from dogs as leather from legal animals.

It may sound appalling, but there is no real way to know.

An investigation in 2014 by Peta, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, found that dogs were being used for leather production, and called on Americans to forgo the purchase of any leather goods and to instead only purchase vegan substitutes. The U.S. imported nearly $8.5 billion in leather goods in 2014.

However, Peter Li, associate professor of East Asian politics at the University of Houston-Downtown and a China policy specialist, says that this practice is relatively rare.

"Dog leather or dog fur use in garments or other products are not that common in China. While there are a few sweatshops producing dog furs in different places, dog fur is largely a byproduct of dog meat trade," he says. He said that when the dog meat trade ends, this will end as well. Li  serves as a consultant for Humane Society International.

Clark said on the show, "It's atrocious and weird and gross, but I want you to be aware that when you buy imported leather goods, you have no way of knowing where that leather is from."

Before you buy imported leather, think twice.

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