The Hat Everyone Is Wearing Is Actually Made Out Of Dog

A recent investigation by National Observer uncovered an ugly truth about fur labeling in Canada: It's perfectly legitimate to advertise a garment as raccoon fur, when it's really made from dogs.

(Not that raccoon fur is any better.)

In this case, it's the Berkeley toque, a species of winterwear that Canadian retailer Kit and Ace sells for $98 online. The cashmere number is touted as having a pom-pom made from 100 percent real Asiatic raccoon.

Well, science says that's a dog. As in, a member of the canine family. And, although the animal has closer ties to a wolf than our domestic sidekicks, that's a far cry from a raccoon.

On the other hand, the fur industry, under Federal Trade Commission guidelines, says raccoon is a perfectly legitimate label.

After all, the industry has been representing the raccoon dog as such for years, much to the animal's wholesale lament. Why change now?

Well, Kit and Ace may have to change its stripes now thanks to growing social media chagrin over the label. The company, run by Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, stands by its Asiatic raccoon fur for now, but promises it's conducting a "detailed investigation."

"Upon completion of this investigation," the company tweeted, "additional information will be available."

The brutishly brief and agonizing existence of a raccoon dog in the service of pom poms and other luxury adornment is well-documented. In China, the animals are reportedly crushed into tiny cages before being skinned alive.

The devil, you see, is in the details.

The fur industry prefers the emphasis on raccoon, lest consumers be inconveniently reminded of their beloved pets. Also, it's been the custom for so long. Why confuse consumers?

Naturally, animal welfare groups favor the scientifically accurate designation raccoon dog.

"We just think they are trying to use a different name to avoid giving the impression that the animal is somehow connected to a domestic dog which people have a natural affinity for," Peter Fricker of the Vancouver Humane Society told CBC News.

Of course, by its very nature, retail is known to tell a tall tale or two to sell various wares. But, in this case, the semantical argument over a dog and a raccoon may make all the difference in the world in alleviating at least some of the suffering, inflicted en masse, to a certain unfortunate animal.

Or better yet, Kit and Ace might come around to the notion that the devil isn't so much in the details, but in the entire industry - and drop fur entirely.

If you would like to let Kit and Ace know how you feel about their fur labeling practices, drop them a line here.