Making Clothing Out of Your Best Friend

As if there weren’t a multitude of reasons why the nation of China is to be deplored – shooting innocent students, subjugating and victimizing their citizenry, the massive US-China trade deficit, Communism – my local news station has been running this story about how coats containing the fur of domesticated dogs are coming in from the world’s most populous country. What’s more, they are being deliberately mislabeled or misadvertised!

From King5.com (emphasis added is mine):

Is your fur fake or is it Fido?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – That fur trim on your jacket that you think is fake? Tell it to Fido.

An animal advocacy group says its investigation has turned up coats – some with designer labels, some at higher-end retailers – with fur from man's best friend

The Humane Society of the United States said it purchased coats from reputable outlets, such as upscale Nordstrom, with designer labels – Andrew Marc, Tommy Hilfiger, for example – and found them trimmed with fur from domestic dogs, even though the fur was advertised as fake.

"It's an industrywide deception," said Kristin Leppert, the head of the Human Society's anti-fur campaign…

Of the 25 coats tested, 24 were mislabeled or misadvertised.

Three coats… contained fur from domesticated dogs. The others had fur from raccoon dogs – a canine species native to Asia – or, in one case, wolves. The single correctly labeled coat was trimmed with coyote fur, but it was advertised as fake.

Most of the fur came from China.

SOURCE

If you’re so inclined, read the entire article, though I warn you, you will be educated in some rather grisly production practices employed by people who think nothing of selling you a coat lined with the pelt of an animal they know you consider a beloved and loyal companion.

I’m Not Falling For the "Cultural Divide" BS

When I was in college, I had an Anthropology professor who came storming into class one day irate over an ad she’d seen in a local small-press newspaper. She held the ad up and read it aloud: “We must STOP the EATING OF CATS in Vietnam!!!”

She then began a twenty-minute tirade about how ludicrous and uneducated of a statement that was. People in Vietnam do not see felines the way Americans and Europeans do, she told us. Many of them live in such abject poverty that their only space to raise livestock is on their own roofs and as a result, they raise chickens and cats for their meat. She went on to talk about how ignorance is what causes a seemingly unbridgeable cultural divide.

And there are some who might argue that this practice of skinning domesticated dogs for use on human designer clothing is not so much barbaric and sick as it is simply an example of the cultural divide to which my professor was referring. To this I say, “Bullshit!”

In fact, I would go so far as to say that what China is doing is the exact opposite of cultural ignorance. Indeed, they realize full well that most people would not want real dog fur on their coats, thus the 96% deception rate. Further, they are acutely aware that enough Americans fall for the notion that “expensive” equals “quality” to justify the massive boost in profits generated by not having to manufacture quality artificial fur. That’s not ignorance of our culture; that’s knowing it all to well and exploiting it.

Tell me, why do we do business with China again? Why do we financially support a nation whose government embodies the exact antithesis of democracy? Why are we even bothering to do any trade at all with people who would insidiously clothe us in the scalps of our best friends?

(I believe Henry has some stuff to add to my list, if you care to listen to him for two and a half minutes.)

If you happen to own a coat with, say, a fur-lined hood, you may want to scrutinize that lining very closely. If it seems too good to be synthetic, it probably is. Look at Marley's sweet, smiling face and realize that the German Shepherd Dog is a breed commonly used for this cruel purpose.

Just so you know.

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About kirkstarr

I draw pictures for a living.
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41 Responses to Making Clothing Out of Your Best Friend

  1. IG says:

    What?? Oh Kirk. This is horrible. Thank you for the information. It is always, always best to know. But now I have to go somewhere and be sick for a little while.

  2. It is sad that they do this to dogs in China, and sell their fur to unsuspecting people in North America and Europe. You are right the cultural divide is not whether they eat animals we consider pets, or turn them into fur coats, the divide is how they do business with us. China is a major importer of good from the USA, Canada and Europe, if anyone tried to stop doing business with them would find their economy so deep in the dumpster that their Great Great Great Grand Children might see the light of a working economy (maybe) and it would be a country owned wholesale by China, after it defaulted on it's loans.China doesn't see rules and laws the same as the rest of us, they see them as a something to work around, and extract bigger bribes, not as something to restrict them from doing what they want. So it is up to the USA, Canada, EU to take strong measures when they get caught doing something, companies that do business there have a obligation to their customers to make sure their Chinese partners live up to our standards, and not live down to theirs.

  3. little miao says:

    Thank you for the excellent post, as always.One of the major problems with China right now is that the economy is so unregulated. In fact, it's fair to say that the US economy is much more regulated that the Chinese economy at this point (quite ironic given the Chinese government's facade of communist ideology). The Party doesn't want to control the economy, because a deregulated economy boosts prosperity, and that is the Party's current source of legitimacy.The problems with this are obvious. One of them is that consumers in China cannot trust the products they buy. It's not just US consumers getting deceived. People in China are afraid to buy fresh produce because so much of it is colored with lethal poisons; there's a huge boom in "pharmaceuticals" with absolutely no oversight; etc. It's true that the rule of law isn't well-established in China, and corruption is endemic. There are no effective human rights, animal rights, or environmental protections, although there are many efforts inside China to improve things. A small group of Chinese entrepreneurs are benefiting by taking advantage of the bulk of the Chinese population as well as Western consumers.There have been several campaigns in major cities to control domestic animal populations, usually following rabies scares. Reading about them makes me sick. Officials confiscate dogs from people's homes and then kill them. The families whose dogs get taken away have no recourse. The government can use "public health and order" as a justification for practically any abusive and dehumanizing policy.(sorry, I didn't plan to write so much…)

  4. Kirk says:

    Thank you, miao! You have inspired me to make a very clear point, so as not to come of as a hater:

    When I say "the nation of China is to be deplored", I do not mean I despise her people or people of Chinese descent, nor do I blame every citizen of China for their government's incredible corruption. The people of China are unfathomably oppressed; just as I should not be held accountable for the atrocious actions of President Bush (whom I did not vote for), it would be wrong of me to hold against them the actions of their government (whom they are never allowed to vote for).

  5. Lauri says:

    *Sigh* It is of course the same the world over. Some people will do anything for money. Anything. And, of course, as horrendous as this is, it pains me no end to know there are thousands of worse things going on over the whole planet. The human race has a long way to go.

  6. spooktastic says:

    i don't pretend to completely despise communism. sometimes i have some very commie pinko ideas wafting in the rafters of my brain. it totally bothers me that we have such a 'wonderful' relationship with china, with all their human rights violations and killing of girl babies and all sorts of horridness. but we can't even buy a cuban cigar or visit cuba? both communist countries. so what's the big deal? well china provides cheap outsourced labor and cheap goods we want to buy. cuba gives us nothing, and cuba has really never been willing to play ball with us on any field. to a certain extent i think there is a cultural divide in which they don't quite understand what the big deal is about killing/eating/wearing dogs and cats. but gawd, the thought just gives me the willies. (sorry for the almost incongruent topics, and the rant about cuba, cuba is a favorite topic of mine…)

  7. lizzy says:

    oh man that's just horrible. 😦

  8. alji says:

    I can't think of a better end for a dog!
    The killing of baby girls has nothing to do with communism and everything to do with over population.
    Why should Cuba give you anything? What have you given Cuba?

  9. Kirk says:

    "I can't think of a better end for a dog!"
    Um… thank you for your disturbing and lamentable opinion. It tells me a lot about you, alji, especially considering I don't hide the fact that I adore dogs.

    "The killing of baby girls has nothing to do with communism and everything to do with over population."
    And your point is what? Do you find it justified, then? O_o"Why should Cuba give you anything? What have you given Cuba?"You know, your pithy, vague language is quite tiresome. If you have something to say, then say it. If you think you can justify the atrocities practiced in the PRC, give a whirl. But I warn you, be respectful of me and my readers. I'll not tolerate a 'net troll at my VOX.

  10. Marque says:

    i was gonna say – well, you know me kirk..you know what i was going to say. but you did such an amazing job…i am not needed in these parts. fuck the net trolls, they are multiplying here – and we need some serious extermination going on. i think i can't think of a better end for alji. stupid fucker.

  11. spooktastic says:

    whoa, i found that to be totally weird. i don't think that i said anything about communism killing girl babies. what i was talking about is that china does some seriously fucked up things not even taking into account the communism. and what i meant by cuba gives us nothing, is that cuba has nothing that we want, so we don't care about cuba. i, as an individual, care very much for cuba. what i was commenting on was our double standard, treat one communist country one way (trade with them, provide them with (albeit questionable) employment), and treat the other another way (embargos, preventing our citizens from even visiting their country except under the strictest of guidelines, if i were to enter cuba my military benefits would be completely taken away from me), all the while exclaiming our hatred for communism. i'm weirded out. it's strange to see someone reply to my words completely out of context. and i feel slightly disgusted with myself that i felt the need to justify my words…. thanks for sticking up for me, kirk. 🙂

  12. lauowolf says:

    I think the lesson is, if you don't approve of fur, just don't wear it.At all.Not even high quality faux fur.I mean, if you don't want to wear fur for real, why should you want to *look* like you're wearing fur?And why are we trading with China? Because businesses like the cheap labor.(Hey, some of it is prisoners and all of it is non-union, what's not to like?)

  13. Marque says:

    where the hell are these commenters coming from tonight? fuck. some sort of idiot convention going on at vox that i am unaware of? wtf?

  14. I don't like fur… even fake fur. I think it's tacky. But now that you've enlightened me… ew. It makes my stomach turn. Dog fur? There's a woman I know who will take fur that you've brushed off of your dog and turn it into a sweater. But I think that is the only kind of dog fur that would be acceptable for anyone to wear. those poor puppies. 😦

  15. Dancing Bear says:

    I was n a buying trip in Atlanta and i went to a showroom that had the neatest stuff. I was going to blow some big bucks and I turned the corner and spotted these little sleeping dogs. They were so real looking. As I got closer i noticed that they were real puppies, killed and stuffed. I exploded, shouted nasty things at the shop owner andtold them how much money they just lost. I was disgusted and pissed, and saddened. I have seen the markets on film only but cry at the plight of any animal for sale for food. When it is my "family" I become ill. I cannot comprehend dog eating. I hate cruelty mongers.

  16. MandaPanda says:

    "I can't think of a better end for a dog!
    "Really? You can't? You got bitten by a vicious dog, weren't you?
    "The killing of baby girls has nothing to do with communism and everything to do with over population."You're partially correct. Families will kill their baby girls because they are expected to only have one child, and girls in their culture are less than little boys. How…. Classic."Why should Cuba give you anything? What have you given Cuba?"That's kind of the point. We deal with a communist China, who sendus products full of lies (the "fake" fur), mistreat their workers, andtake jobs away from America workers, but we allow Cuba to go down the drain. Why? Because they threatened us years ago? Well… maybe my history's off, but didn't China play a part in both the Korean and Vietnam War? WE HAD A COLD WAR AGAINST THE USSR FOR PETE'S SAKE! But we gobble up Chinese made products… While they eat Man's. Best. Friend.

  17. Kirk says:

    That's my girl. *beams with pride*

  18. devonrex says:

    I'm not saying I disagree with you Kirk, but just to maybe stimulate some more debate, I'll throw this out there: Each culture has it's own set of domestic animals. Each culture kills animals. It's a random thing. Cultures should not be judged on these choices. Glass houses and such.

  19. Kirk says:

    A valid point, devonrex, and one I attempted to touch on with the anecdote about my college Anthropology prof. It's not that I deny a cultural difference; it's their exploitation of our culture .which I despise. It's one thing to be cool with eating dogs (an animal that has been man's most loyal companion for a couple millennia at least, I'm quick to mention), but it's an entirely different thing to fraudulently sell dog fur to people you know would be appalled by it.

  20. little miao says:

    Well, because I can't resist joining in… I'm an anthropologist, and the culture divide argument that Kirk objects to above irks me to no end. I agree 100% with your point, Kirk. It's pure BS.First of all, cultures are never static, they're always changing, thank goodness. If inhumane and intolerant practices become unacceptable in more societies, I'm all for it. A lot of people in China nowadays would never eat dog meat because they like dogs and keep dogs as pets. Second of all, there's no end to the atrocities that could be justified using the "it's part of their culture" argument. Where would it end?And the crux of the issue, as I see it, isn't whether dog meat is acceptable as food in China. It's the cruel and inhumane practices of the Chinese companies that butcher dogs and sell their fur around the globe. It's also about the Chinese government's unwilligness or inability to regulate business practices and enforce at least minimal standards for the humane treatment of animals in factories, farms, and homes (because as of now, there are effectively no such standards). These problems have nothing to do with culture, but everything to do with greed.

  21. devonrex says:

    I guess it's the deceptive nature of it (domestically and internationally) that is troublesome. I would agree. Greed, though, is present in North America and China.

  22. Kirk says:

    "Greed, though, is present in North America and China."Indeed. It serves as the backbone of Lasseiz Faire Capitalism and at the same time the hamartia of Communism. What's important to note, however, is that most of the designer clothing companies involved responded by immediately pulling their products that contained the fur and making it clear they would not tolerate that sort of practice, regardless of what it did to their bottom line. The Chinese businesses, however, will continue in their disdainful ways and sell their ill-gotten pelts to whomever has the decayed morals to buy them.

  23. J says:

    Those crazy Chinese, they'll getcha everytime. Too bad I can't even afford faux fur. How did this become discovered? I'll have to dig into those links later on.

  24. I don't know Kirk. I think they've actually learned from us quite admirably. They're out capitalizing the original capitalists. And I think that's pretty awesome (using the original meaning of the word) of them.I'm not going to weigh in on the whole skinning dogs thing, because honestly, if you're killing an animal, you're killing an animal. Hell, if my gloves were made out of baby skin, I wouldn't really have a problem with it. Humans are animals too, after all. But like I said. Not touching that one.However, the reason we support China. The reason we really really love china and let them get away with anything they want to?Because they fucking own us. They own us so fucking hardcore, that if they were to one day up and cash in their holdings in the US, our economy would crash so fucking fast, it'd make the gas price increase due to the war in iraq a distant memory. And that's why we fucking love us some Chinese craziness. We're more hooked on their cash than we are on oil.

  25. alji says:

    I love dogs but not all dogs. They are not mans best friend and no I have not been bitten by one. But I do known of many children who have been bitten and even killed by dogs. My son had a Rottweiler puppy which bit his daughter and a Doberman Pinscher from a pet rescue which had been ill treated by its owner and was paranoid. The Doberman recovered eventually and became a guard dog.

  26. Kirk says:

    "I'm not going to weigh in on the whole skinning dogs thing… if my gloves were made out of baby skin, I wouldn't really have a problem with it. Humans are animals too, after all. But… not touching that one."You crack me up, Dustin. To state in the same paragraph that you'd have no problem with gloves made of human skin but that you won't touch the dog-skinning issue is humorous in its absurdity. If its an oblique anti-abortion reference, I get it, but it's definitely not the best pro-life argument I've ever heard."Because they fucking own us… our
    economy would crash so fucking fast…"I refuse to believe this is an unfixable situation.

  27. Kirk says:

    "I love dogs…"This is quite contradictory to your claim that being skinned alive is a fitting end for a dog."They are not mans best friend…"A couple thousand years of undying loyalty from them would seem to refute your claim."I have not been bitten by one. But I do known of many children who have been bitten and even killed by dogs. My son had a Rottweiler puppy which bit his daughter and a Doberman Pinscher from a pet rescue which had been ill treated by its owner and was paranoid."While all of this is indeed sad, I hardly see how it justifies the immense savagery dogs are subjected to in China as a "fitting end" for them.Perhaps it is that you did not read the entire article and are spouting uneducated opinions. I'd rather believe that about you than believe you are fine with dogs having their pelts violently removed while they howl in pain. The former would mean you were simply ignorant; the latter would mean you were barbarically cruel. I must also assume that since you have nothing more to say about China or Cuba, spooktastic and my 17-year-old daughter satisfied you in those areas.

  28. I wasn't going to say anything about the dog-skinning thing because people are so damn touchy-feely about animals. Neil Gaiman has a great short story called Babycakes, he wrote for PETA about all the animals leaving, and humans turning to babies for everything. I don't really see how it works for PETAs goals, but I don't like PETA because they want to keep me from eating chicken, and tell me things like Pigs can play Playstation.And as for babies. They smell, and there are a lot of them. I've never met a baby that was smarter than a calf. And if we skin calfs, why not skin babies.Not like good healthy babies. But you know, the bad ones. The ones–with attached earlobes.And really, Kirk. Do you honestly think I'd ever make an anti-abortion reference? One of my favorite quotes from my first year in college was from my insane psych professor who one day went off on a tirade and said:"No one wants a tapeworm. Babies are biological parasites for the first nine months, and then they're emotional and financial parasites until they're thirty! Abortion, it's just good hygiene."

  29. lauowolf says:

    Just as a mark of, I don't know, respect maybe.May I remind people of the original post here.It isn't only the fact of the dog fur that Kirk is pointing to as objectionable.It's the deceit.(The fact is disgusting too, but that's a separate issue — I'm not going to China and berating people for what they are doing there.It's what they are doing *here* that is the question.)Somebody doesn't like me eating chicken, that's fine, we can discuss it.Even agree to disagree.But you won't catch me feeding chicken to a vegan and telling him it's tofu.It isn't cultural difference, it's deceit, cynicism (that's ironic) and plain old greed.The *point* is American consumers, by and large, won't buy dog-fur trim, or baby-skin mittens, or whatever.And if you tell them what they are being sold, they will be pissed-off.And if you just really have to play the "I'm nastier than you because I hate puppies, and babies, and you can't stop me" game.Well it reeks of high school gross-out sessions.And fine.You win.But when you're eating your calf, chicken, pig or whatever, don't you want it to be properly labelled?God forbid — someone could be slipping you some tofu.

  30. IG says:

    "But when you're eating your calf, chicken, pig or whatever, don't you want it to be properly labelled? God forbid — someone could be slipping you some tofu."*wild applause* Absolutely perfect comment, lauowolf, from beginning to end. Bravo.

  31. alji says:

    I suggest you read the History of Cuba. You can start here.
    As for China, it has a population of 1,313,973,713 in a country a little smaller than the USA which has a population of 298,444,215.
    I still think dogs are not mans best friend. Would you ask your dog to help you with some DIY or go shopping for you?

  32. Kirk says:

    "I suggest you read the History of Cuba. You can start here."I know the history of Cuba quite well. What I'm trying to get from you is a point. What point about Cuba are you trying to make, Alji? You came off as if the comments Spooktastic made about Cuba bothered you, yet you refuse to explain yourself. Do you have a point about Cuba that counters spooktastic's? Or are you just baiting people?"As for China, it has a population of 1,313,973,713 in a country a little smaller than the USA which has a population of 298,444,215."Again, what is your point? By being so vague, you risk people thinking that you find the baby-culling practices in China to be an acceptable alternative to birth control. Is that what you want us to think, or do you have something insightful to offer? These pithy, patronizing blurbs really are getting old. I still think dogs are not mans best friend. Would you ask your dog to help you with some DIY or go shopping for you?Probably not. But then, I know for a fact that my dog will not fuck my wife or steal my CDs or bitch about his bad day incessantly. He also won't come onto my blog and show attitude spouting a whole bunch of nothing. I can count on my dog to be happy to see me every single day and to protect me should anyone want to do me harm. That's a fat lot more than I can say about most people I know.So, if it is the difference in species that, in your mind, makes it so dog and man cannot be best friends, I wonder if you've ever actually experienced the unparalleled love of a good dog. I'm thinking not. And for that, you have my sympathy.I don't mean to seem unfriendly, Alji, but I'm getting rather annoyed by the brevity of your comments.Also, as lauowolf mentions above, we have gotten WAY off track from my original point which is that China seems to have no problem fraudulently selling us fur they know we wouldn't buy if we were being told the truth about it.

  33. "Probably not. But then, I know for a fact that my dog will not fuck my wife or steal my CDs or bitch about his bad day incessantly." I had a dog eat a roll of exposed film once. That pissed me off. And your dog might not fuck your wife, but if your wife fucked your dog, I doubt Fido would complain. I've seen it on the internet. *shudder*Yeah, we have gotten off track, but that's the beauty of discussions. As far as the china lying to those poor little american consumers. Yes, ethically it's bad. But really, look at Nestle or Round Up or the companies that sell genetically modified crops that inhibit growth of other seed types. This kind of thing is rampant. People are naturally unethical and probably immoral. If you're going to kick one out, you have to kick them all out. And then, we'd all be living in bubbles.

  34. Kirk says:

    Okay, so, since there's so much corruption in the world, I should just accept it, then? Even embrace it, perhaps? I don't get it. I'm reminded of Dostoevsky's Notes From the Underground wherein he writes:"Of course I cannot break through the wall by battering my head against
    it if I really have not the strength to knock it down, but I am not
    going to be reconciled to it simply because it is a stone wall and I
    have not the strength."Sometimes I wonder if you just post stuff to get a reaction, Dustin. I know you, and I know you're a smart guy, so I'm troubled by the blasé attitude you're taking. China's atrocities may not be the only ones, but they might be a good place to start some house-cleaning, no?And if it's American companies you wanna bash, then take a look at my Pig Post. I don't limit my derision of sick business practices to just Asians.

  35. Timshel says:

    This is a good post/opinion. I have mixed feelings. I don't agree with the practice in any way shape or form…but I as a Sociologist who studies cultures on a regular basis what culture's do and say does not always match up to what "we" as a culture believe to be right, regardless if their motives are financial, social, generalized cultural etc. practices…we could argue about female gential mutilation/circumcision…not exactly the same and I as a woman want it stopped entirely, globally, but in parts of the world that is a way of life that women embrace…I use this as a parallel, because although some major corporations do facilitate this cruel practice in PRC, there are some people that can only survive in that country because of those jobs…the problem goes deeper than animal rights, or even my example FGM, it goes to the culture of people themselves, the way they've been socialized, taught to behave/what to believe that makes this an atrocity…the problem has a root, like most social issues/problems and without attacking it all you're doing is concentrating on the surface. (this is not meant at your point of view just a general overview of when people look at social issues globally, a lot of times they spawn from a much deeper problem like in your argument the system in which PRC functions)

  36. I know you don't limit your criticisms, Kirk. And that's why I love ya man. My point about American involvement with anything is simple. As long as we export moral abuses. Who are we to judge those that do the same? Until America is a shining silver light of moral superiority, by judging others and inflicting our will on them, we're just saying we're better. When…well…we're just as fucked, if not more so. We harp a lot on the China thing, and we like them because they buy our stuff, and invest in our infrastructure. We're not going to get that out any time soon. And yeah, if they up and pulled their cash out, we'd really really really be fucked financially as a nation. Do I support the gross and unchecked expansion of breaks-off capitalism, no. But do I understand why other countries do it? Yes. We're the new empire. We set the tone. And until we change our internal tone. We're just being hypocrites. And maybe we can, and maybe we can't. But really, the bulk of the upcoming generation can't figure out subject-verb agreement, so I don't have a lot of faith in humanity.

  37. Kirk says:

    "My point about American involvement with anything is simple. As long as we export moral abuses. Who are we to judge those that do the same?"I hear you and I agree that America by no means represents the pinnacle of moral business practices, but then I'm not the one who is making these business decisions and therefore I feel I have every right to take issue with it. I can vote, I can buy selectively, and I can inform others by blogging and debating. But, like Dostoevsky, I refuse to resign myself to it just because I cannot fix it alone."But really, the bulk of the upcoming generation can't figure out
    subject-verb agreement, so I don't have a lot of faith in humanity."*claps madly* Yeah, you knew that line would have a special effect on me; don't think I'm not onto you. ~_^

  38. Actually I just had an extended conversation with a former fellow-cynic who told me I needed to "be drinkable" like Henry Rollins, and let things slide and not try and tear things down so much and just let be what is. I usually like to tear things down to build from scratch, but maybe there's some point to working with the existing structures…I'm not saying you can't take offense at it. I'm just playing devil's advocate. That's what I do, man. I think a lot of people look at things and go "Man, I knew China was fucked up. Fucking Reds!" Without really thinking about it though. Just take a peek through Digg.com to see what I'm dropping here. And yeah, but I worked for a year in the VCU Writing Center. I saw more people who were in grad school and could barely form a thesis. And the sophomores. Oh, the sophomores. I can't tell you about the basic usage abuses I've seen. I'm like a Nam vet when it comes to the composition and rhetoric.

  39. RedScylla says:

    Consider this, too. We euthanize millions of unwanted cats and dogs in this country every year. And we don't use those deaths for anything to benefit anyone. We just incinerate the evidence of our cultural negligence.

  40. Kirk says:

    An excellent point, RedZ. Spay and neuter your pets!

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