In a landmark case, a sheep shearer has pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals for the first time in Australian history. The man was charged following the release of a PETA exposé that documented that sheep shearers in Australia violently punched these gentle animals in the face and beat and jabbed them in the head with sharp metal clippers and even a hammer. These attacks often left the petrified sheep bleeding from their eyes, noses, and mouths.

The shearer who pleaded guilty 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. Five other shearers have also been charged and are scheduled to appear in court next year. As many as 40 additional workers were considered persons of interest in Victoria, Australia, alone after an investigation. The evidence included video footage of 235 incidents—again, recorded in Victoria alone—as well as more than 40 pages of formal legal complaints.

Fast, rough shearing left some sheep cut up and bleeding. Workers stitched up the wounds without giving them any pain relief.

Pain and suffering are standard for sheep in the wool industry.  Sheep are crammed into crowded pens, and lambs’ ears are often hole-punched, their tails are chopped off, and the males are castrated—usually all without any pain relief—and this is considered “normal” on sheep farms. When sheep age and their wool production declines, they are sent to slaughter.

What You Can Do

The realities of the wool industry are hidden from the public. If everyone knew how sheep suffer for wool, no one would buy wool products. The best thing that you can do for sheep is to refuse to buy ANY wool. It’s easy to check the label when you’re shopping. If it says “wool,” leave it on the shelf. Let your friends know about the cruelty behind wool, too!