Undercover investigations by the animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) show abuse and cruelty taking place at sheep-shearing operations in the U.S. and Australia.
As reported by NBC News, workers in Australia "kicked, stomped or stood on animals’ heads necks and hind limbs, while workers for eight contractors punched or struck sheep with clippers. One worker allegedly beat a lamb over the head with a hammer. Workers for five contractors allegedly threw sheep and or slammed their heads and bodies against floors."
In the U.S., "a PETA investigator worked undercover for a sheep shearing company for seven weeks between mid-March and mid-May 2014," according to NBC's reporting. "The investigator went to 25 ranches in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nebraska while working for the shearing company and alleged that he witnessed animal cruelty by three shearers for the company and two ranchers at 14 of the ranches where the company worked."
The allegations are supported by photographs and video footage (warning: graphic and disturbing images), obtained by undercover PETA operatives over the last 12 months (see below).
The revelations underscore the importance of such undercover investigations, which are under attack from "ag-gag" laws in eight states (and counting) that make it illegal for journalists or activists to make or distribute unauthorized audio/visual recordings of what goes on within agricultural facilities.
Indeed, Australia's agriculture minister, Barnaby Joyce, raised ag-gag logic when asked about the investigation:
"One of the questions I ask is with the up close shot of the man hitting the sheep, which is obviously exceptional and cruel and in many instances would be immediate dismissal, where exactly was the camera?" he said to ABC Australia. "Did the person know that they were filmed? Were they actually part of process? There are lots of questions that need to be asked."
In the wake of the exposé, PETA “is calling on shoppers around the world to reject cruelty to animals—and that means never buying wool,” said PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk.
Warning: The following video contains graphic material.