For Immediate Release:
13 December 2016
Workers Caught Punching, Stamping on, and Beating Sheep With Clippers in Victoria Shearing Sheds
Melbourne – In a landmark case, a shearer has pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals for the first time in Australian history. The four counts of the charge against the Lucindale man followed the release of a PETA US exposé which documented that Australian wool workers beat scared sheep in the face with electric clippers and punched and stamped on their heads and necks.
Following an investigation by Agriculture Victoria, the state’s Director of Public Prosecutions filed charges against the man, who appeared last Friday in Horsham Magistrates’ Court. He has been banned from shearing or being in charge of farmed animals for two years and has been ordered to donate $500 to the RSPCA.
As a result of the investigation, six shearers have been charged, with the five others scheduled to face court next year. As many as 40 additional workers were considered persons of interest in Victoria alone.
“There’s no doubt that wilful and gratuitous cruelty to animals has been par for the course in Australia’s shearing sheds”, says PETA Australia Associate Director of Campaigns Ashley Fruno. “This is a warning to all shearers that if you abuse sheep or allow someone to do so, you are likely to face prosecution.”
The comprehensive evidence included video footage of 235 incidents recorded in Victoria alone as well as more than 40 pages of formal legal complaints. According to one investigator who waited in vain for sheep farm managers to step in and require humane treatment, “There is nothing more difficult than watching abuse happen and knowing that those in a position to prevent it aren’t going to do anything about it”.
PETA Australia – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear” – encourages consumers to choose materials that are not derived from appalling suffering.
For more information about the cruelty of the wool industry, please visit PETA.org.au.