Video: The Web Designer Turned PETA Eyewitness

For Immediate Release:
October 9, 2018

David Perle 202-483-7382

Memphis, Tenn.

When an opportunity arose for former PETA web developer Don Gaines to covertly expose cruelty in the wool industry and debunk retailers’ claims of “humane wool,” he jumped at the chance. But as the Memphis resident reveals in a new PETA video, he came away from the experience with more than he’d bargained for. Four years later, Gaines still experiences intense, violent flashbacks of the horrors he recorded, but in spite of that, he says that he’d do it again in a heartbeat—after all, his eyewitness footage helped PETA secure the first-ever cruelty-to-animals convictions against workers in the wool industry.

His video is part of a new 10-part documentary series titled “PETA Reveals: Everybody’s Got a Story,” which highlights 10 individuals’ “Clark Kent moments”—times when some kind of life-changing experience or personal revelation awakened their sense of social justice and triggered their evolution into activists. For Gaines, that experience came when he worked in six wool sheds in Australia and on 25 sheep farms in the U.S. and documented violence worse than he’d ever thought possible, including shearers routinely beating up terrified sheep, using them as “punching bags,” and cutting off their tails and even part of one sheep’s ear, leaving them with huge bloody gashes from the shearing blades, which they sewed up with a needle and thread.

“The image that haunts me most is when I witnessed a worker twist a sheep’s neck so violently that he killed her,” Gaines says in his video. “I wanted nothing more than to retaliate against this man and escape that situation, but I knew I had to get the footage necessary to expose this cruel industry to the world.”

Other videos in this series of personal stories from PETA activists touch on issues including how an encounter with a pig at a slaughterhouse vigil inspired one PETA staffer to dedicate her life to animals and why it’s impossible to be a cheese-eating feminist. The full series from PETA—whose motto is “Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way”—is available here.

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