Animal welfare advocates step up legal efforts to end illegal trade in kangaroo parts in California

Natural disasters were hard enough on kangaroos. Do they also need to be hunted for shoes?

Showcase of the Soccer USA outing in California.

The Center for a Humane Economy has filed a lawsuit against Soccer USA based on information that the retailer is violating California law by selling products from kangaroos.

Groups Call on Soccer Shop USA to Stop Illegal Sales of Kangaroo Soccer Cleats

We have repeatedly called on state officials… to take formal enforcement action to stop these illegal sales. To date, they have refused to do so, leaving it up to us to enforce the law.

— Kate Schultz, Senior Counsel, Center for a Humane Economy.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA, Aug. 31, 2022 / — The Center for a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action filed a second lawsuit today to compel compliance with California’s law prohibiting the sale of kangaroo parts – this one against a second California-based sportswear retailer, alleging that the company was illegally selling kangaroo-sourced football boots to consumers.

The legal move, filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court against Soccer Shop USA, came after the group’s investigators discovered several models of kangaroo leather soccer shoes for sale at the three outlets in the Los Angeles area.

The case follows a similar lawsuit filed in June against Soccer Wearhouse, also a Southern California retailer, for engaging in the same illegal sales practices. That earlier lawsuit is pending in Riverside County Superior Court.

Section 653o of the state Penal Code prohibits the sale of body parts of a number of animals, including the kangaroo. As recently reported by the Los Angeles Times and also documented by previous investigations into the organizations, this law is routinely ignored by activewear retailers statewide. A number of retailers, including Soccer Wearhouse and Soccer Shop USA, have offered football boots in their stores and online made from kangaroo skins from companies such as Puma, Nike and Adidas.

“We have repeatedly called on state officials, including the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as local prosecutors, to take formal enforcement action to end the these illegal sales,” said Kate Schultz, senior attorney at the Center for a Humane Economy. “To date, they have refused to do so, leaving it to us to compel enforcement in light of these clear and overt violations.”

The kangaroo industry in Australia engages in the largest commercial killing of terrestrial wild animals in the world. Each year, approximately two million wild kangaroos are slaughtered in their natural habitat to supply the lucrative kangaroo parts industry. Kangaroo-based cleats account for about 70% of this demand.

As horrific as the shooting of millions of adult kangaroos is, the abuse inflicted on hundreds of thousands of baby kangaroos – joeys – each year is even worse. Helpless young animals are torn from pouches and killed by blunt force trauma to the head after their mothers have been shot, often with a violent swing against the side of a car or other solid surface. Australia’s killing code states that it is normal for babies to linger in pain for a good three minutes before death ends their suffering.

“Synthetic soccer cleats are readily available and easily rival or surpass those made from kangaroo hides,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “Ten years ago, Nike promised to phase out its kangaroo products, but it reneged on that explicit commitment. Today, following cataclysmic fires that have killed billions of Australian animals, the slaughter of kangaroos in their native habitats continues to supply major athletic shoe retailers who can easily use an alternative fabric for all of their offerings.

The Center and Animal Wellness Action have invested considerable resources and effort to end the trade in kangaroo body parts, including:

o Maintain an ongoing investigation into illegal sales of leather k cleats in California
o Produce investigation reports that document our in-depth findings
o Work both nationally and internationally to introduce legal bans on the sale of kangaroo products in commerce
o Mount a public pressure campaign against the major football boot manufacturers.

Over the past few months, the organizations and their local allies have launched protests outside several Nike flagship stores across the country, including in New York, Portland and Los Angeles, as well as overseas in Australia.

“California is one of the most lucrative markets in the United States for the soccer industry with more than 300,000 children enrolled in youth leagues,” said Natasha Dolezal, the Center’s assistant director of campaigns.

“We intend to end illegal sales of these products statewide and continue to fight to ensure that the days of kangaroo leather cleats are over,” she said. . “These cases are just the first of several that we intend to bring if retailers across the state ignore our warning and continue breaking the law.”

The Center and Animal Wellness Action are represented in the case by in-house attorneys and attorneys from the Kim Richman Law and Policy Group.

The Center for a Humane Economy is a non-profit organization that aims to influence business conduct to forge a humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal welfare movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and environmental degradation and embrace innovation as a means to eliminate both .

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, DC-based 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to help animals by promoting legal standards prohibiting cruelty. We champion causes that alleviate the suffering of pets, farm animals and wildlife. We advocate for policies to end dog and cockfighting and other forms of malicious cruelty and to combat factory farming and other systemic forms of animal exploitation. To prevent cruelty, we encourage good public policies and work to enforce those policies. To enact good laws, we need to elect good legislators, and that’s why we remind voters which candidates care about our problems and which don’t. We believe that helping animals helps us all.

Kate Schultz, Senior Counsel
Center for a Human Economy
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