Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Overstock.com: Hypocrites Bathed in Ignorance

Pony hide lounge sold by Overstock

Sometimes the title seems to say it all:

And sometimes it doesn't.

In the article, above, the "dog" is not a dog at all, but a "raccoon dog" which, despite its name, is actually an animal that is almost identical in every way to the American raccoon.

Raccoon or raccoon dog?

The inaccurate story in question seems to stem from a Humane Society campaign in which the organization is cynically banging the gong over the fact that the Chinese export raccoon dog pelts.

Raccoon dog? What? The Chinese are exporting the skins of Plott hounds?

No, not quite.

The Humane Society of the U.S. is quite secure that the average American does not know what a raccoon dog really is, and will jump the gun and believe the worst.

In fact the Chinese are exporting the skins of raccoon-like animals that are not a dog in any way, shape or form.

And just to put things into perspective, here in the U.S. we trapped 2.8 million raccoons in 1989 for the export fur trade. That same year, American trappers also harvested from the wild 2.2 million Muskrat, 429,249 Beaver, 398,037 Nutria, 190,221 Mink, 164,487 Red Fox, and 159,043 Coyote.

Did this trapping hurt wild animal populations in this country? Not a whit. In fact, all of the named animals are at a 100-year record for abundance in this country. Raccoon dog is similarly common and abundant (with an expanding range) over much of Eurasia.

What makes Overstock.com's cave-in to the Humane Society particularly absurd, is that this same company has no compunction at all about selling other kinds of animal products, including fur.

Interested in Shearling Lamb? Overstock has shearling jackets and coats, as well as lined boots and slippers. Shearling, for the record, is a skinned baby sheep.

Want a Pony-hide Lounge chair? Overstock is only too happy to sell it!

Want leather items? Overstock has over 4,000 of those, from belts and gloves to purses, coats, shoes and upholstered furniture.

Want shark skin or eelskin products? Overstock has them.

Want to kill your own critters and tan their hides? Overstock sells books to help you learn how to do it, including such little gems as The Ultimate Guide to Skinning and Tanning, How to Tan Skins the Indian Way, and Tan Your Hide!

Of course, if you are a vegan it's not all about leather and fur is it? Overstock also sells rawhide chew toys for dogs as well as over 4,000 items made with goose and duck down, and another 1,500 items made of feathers

As for the sniffing exceptionalists who say killing raccoon dogs for their pelts is different, because at least with chicken, geese and cows, we eat the flesh of the formerly living animal, let me suggest they take some time to study Chinese cooking recipes.

In China folks eat everything that flies, slithers, crawls, hops, or runs including rats, lizards, snakes, turtles, bats, cats and dogs.

Raccoon dog is simply raccoon, and we even eat raccoon in this country, so you know they eat it in China.

So, push-comes-to shove, the folks at the Humane Society of the U.S. are doing nothing more than pushing an extreme animal rights agenda (How can you each chicken!! How can you eat hamburger!!) by cynically pairing ignorance with cultural prejudice.

And the nodding fools at at Overstock.com bought into it.

Nice. So when are they going to stop selling leather purses, wallet, shoes, furniture and watch bands? When are they going to stop selling goose down pillows and quilts?


ramin said...

In Finland raccoon dogs are actively hunted to reduce their numbers as they are an introduced species that conquers space from native species.

It's funny how there are differences in reactions from one country to another. In Finland no-one will bat an eyelid at the fact that raccoon dogs are hunted even though the name includes the word 'dog' in Finnish as well.

PBurns said...

I think the confusion may be unique to this hemisphere, where we have raccoon, and dogs that hunt raccoons, but we do not have "raccoon dogs" (the animals you hunt). To the American mind, which is entirely ignorant that such an animal as a "raccoon dog" even exists, the assumption is that the animal in question is a dog (such as a fox hound) that chases raccoons. Of course it is not.


Chip said...

Good to know people in the US are eating raccoon.

But that brings up an old question: Does anybody eat woodchuck?

I searched on the net, but I wasn't sure the recipes I found were meant seriously.

PBurns said...

Oh sure -- all the time. Very popular back before every piece of meat came wrapped in plastic with a foam tray underneath it. On the farm we were on Sunday, I ran into the woman who owns the place near the barns, and she was zipping around in her power wheelchair (she is about 80 I think) watering her flowers. She used to eat them all the time, and said they were quite good. It's best to get a younger one, though; they get tougher in old age. Taste's like squirrel. Too much trouble to skin out for me; I recycle them back to the fox.


Caveat said...

Great post.

Raccoon dogs are adorable animals, no question. So are raccoons for that matter, more common that squirels in a lot of places around here.

When is the public going to clue in to what the H$U$ is about? Don't answer that, too depressing.

gabboon said...

I've had groundhog a couple times and its very good. I'm told its best to eat one that has been headshot. One worried by a dog or dispatched in another manner tends to have the meat spoiled by adrenalin (so i have been told). Its also important to carefully remove the scent glands. Stew it in a tomato base for a while and then cook how you want. It is much like squirrel but there is enough for a meal, even several people.

MaskedMan said...

Pretty rant. Spot-on.

Completely wasted.

While it's nice to preach the choir, it doesn't convert any new souls. Mind you, most souls these days are more interested in the price of gas, and couldn't care less about a little politically-correct stupidity. It's a shame you can't go to where Overstock lives, economically-speaking, and drop you verbal bomb there. Unfortunately, in the era of the Internet, institutions like Overstock live in a million individual in-boxes, so I suppose you haven't much choice but to do your shouting here.


PBurns said...

I think if you will look it up, you will find the notion that "adrenaline spoils meat" or "makes meat taste better" (both claims are made by different people at different times and for different reasons) is a myth.

Adrenaline is a simple short-lived chemical that has little immediate impact on muscle or flesh; it goes straight to the brain and the muscles have to be under stress for HOURS for any drop in PH or lacatic acid to occur.

What DOES impact the taste of groundhog (and ham hogs too, for that matter) is AGE and long-term stress (which is different than short-term adrenaline). A ham hog over 250 pounds is probably male and not worth eating due to age and the hormones that seep into the meat. The same thing occurs with groundhogs over about 10 pounds or so, as they start to have an "off" taste the older they get.

Short term (fight or flight) adrenaline burts are different from long term stress caused by too little food, too little space, and too much competition. In cases where stress is reduced, animals tend to gain more weight, marble up better, and tend to taste better as a result well.

See >> http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T9G-3YF9VVR-K&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=874dc522bdba3a75d92d48cfeed90f90