Sheep Shearer Pleads Guilty to Cruelty to Animals Following PETA Wool Exposé

Undercover Video Shows Sheep Punched, Cut to Shreds, Left for Dead

For Immediate Release:
February 27, 2020

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – A wool industry worker who was caught on camera punching sheep and beating them in the face with heavy electric clippers during a PETA Asia undercover investigation  pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to animals on Monday following a two-year investigation in Victoria, Australia, which is a leading exporter of wool to the United States. Video footage reveals that shearers punched frightened sheep and stomped and stood on their heads and necks. The evidence was gathered by an eyewitness who worked for two shearing contractors in 16 shearing sheds in South Australia and Victoria, and an investigation by RSPCA South Australia is ongoing.

This is the 13th investigation of the global wool industry that PETA and its international affiliates have released since 2014, when its first exposé resulted in the world’s first-ever cruelty-to-animals convictions of sheep shearers. Just this week, a Scottish sheep farmer pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals after he was caught on video viciously punching sheep in the face during a separate PETA Asia investigation.

Facing increasing pressure to drop wool, the industry created the meaningless and ineffective Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) in 2016, which a handful of companies—including Eileen Fisher—now use to defend their wool sales. However, PETA and its affiliates have continued to expose the same cruelty to sheep in shearing sheds around the world since the RWS was created, and RWS documents were found displayed on a wall in one of the sheds visited in the latest  exposé.

“Shearers continue to be caught beating, stomping on, cutting, and otherwise badly injuring sheep as if these terrified animals were inanimate objects,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “The Responsible Wool Standard is a sham, and PETA is advising Eileen Fisher to stop duping consumers and supporting this abuse by switching to vegan wool and other cruelty-free fibers.”

The latest exposé from PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear”—also reveals that two sheep died from conditions that workers called “heart attacks,” likely resulting from stress during shearing. Others were dragged into the sun and left without water or care for hours before they finally died. Farmers also cut the necks of unwanted sheep, apparently while they were fully conscious.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind