Cruel Auction Prompts Super-Size Demand: ‘End Exotic Animal Suffering’

For Immediate Release:
March 10, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Shelby, N.C.

A pair of billboards just went up near the Cleveland County Agriculture & Livestock Exchange rallying the public to demand that the stockyard’s owners ban exotic-animal auctions. The billboards follow a PETA eyewitness investigation revealing that handlers at the Shelby Alternative Livestock Auction held at the stockyard last October were kicking, hitting, dragging, and otherwise abusing vulnerable animals.

Earlier this month, while PETA supporters were holding a protest to demand that the stockyard’s owners, Drs. Steven and Melissa Matthews of Vale Veterinary Hospital, stop the auction planned for March 18 and 19 from going forward (photos available here), that auction was canceled—but the veterinarians have yet to commit to banning exotic-animal auctions from their property permanently.

“Video from the last Shelby Alternative Livestock Auction showed workers chasing frightened bison, dangling a terrified coatimundi by the tail, and kicking and whipping sheep and goats,” says PETA Vice President of Evidence Analysis Dan Paden. “PETA is asking kind people to join us in speaking out against cruel exotic-animal auctions.”

In other incidents documented in October, workers hit animals with poles, dragged goats by their horns, and held a frantic, flailing wallaby upside down by the tail. One worker slammed a baby goat’s head into metal fencing, a zonkey struggled and cried out when his leg was caught in the door of a pen, and workers lifted animals—including nocturnal and prey species—into the air and jostled their cages, while auctioneers and sellers yelled.

That month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited the auction for accepting animals—namely, two hedgehogs, one camel, three prairie dogs, and three water buffaloes—for sale from unlicensed individuals. Colton Morris, the auction’s operator, was cited for selling two water buffaloes at the auction without a USDA license—and PETA is calling on the USDA to crack down on him for organizing the auction, too.

Video and photos from PETA’s investigation are available here and here.

PETA’s billboards are located on W. Sumter Street in Shelby (between N. Trade and N. Lafayette streets) and on I-85 near exit 10B toward Shelby.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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