A COUPLE from Fernhill Heath, near Worcester, are urging shoppers to boycott fake Ugg boots after it was revealed animals are skinned alive to make them.

A national newspaper recently printed horrific pictures from China showing the cruel treatment of raccoon dogs, which are targeted for their soft pelts to make the lining of cheap copies of the sheepskin footwear.

Lynda and Drew Blake, who keep two of the animals as pets, say they were “sickened” by the images.

They have called on shoppers not to buy imitation Ugg boots in a bid to end the persecution of the docile canines, which are no relation to raccoons, but get their name from their similar appearance.

Mrs Blake said thousands of the animals are killed for their fur every year.

“I Googled what was happening and it just made me cry,” she said.

“People need to be made aware – please stop buying these fake boots.

“We’ve had Pongo and Purdy for about five months now and they are amazing dogs.

“We were at a show at the Cob House in Wichenford last week and people just love them. They stroke them and just say how wonderful they are.”

The 47-year-old said while raccoon dogs, or tanuki, are classed as canines, they don’t bark, instead making noises similar to owls, whales and pigs.

They are omnivores, needing a varied diet of meat and vegetables, can climb trees and are the only canine species to hibernate in their natural state.

Mr Blake, who also keeps meerkats, raccoons and skunks, among other exotic creatures, said their life expectancy in captivity was 11-15 years, compared with just one to three years in China.

Members of the public will be able to meet Pongo and Purdy and some of their furry friends at the Cob House on Saturday, November 5, from 10am to 3pm.

• For more information, visit wildsidefurryexotics.co.uk