Weekly Times | July 16, 2014 | Cimara Doutré and Nicola Bell
PETA have been slammed for not reporting animal cruelty to authorities for up to 12 months
ANIMAL activists witnessed animal cruelty in Australian shearing sheds for up to 12 months before reporting it to authorities.
US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last week released graphic footage of sheep being abused in Australian shearing sheds.
The footage was obtained by “undercover investigators” believed to be working on farms and in shearing sheds.
PETA visited 19 shearing sheds in Victoria, South Australia and NSW but a spokeswoman was unable to confirm how many of the 19 appeared in the footage.
The wool industry condemned the brutal behaviour in the video — which showed shearers beating and stomping on sheep — but slammed PETA for not reporting the cruelty earlier.
Australian Workers’ Union Victorian co-ordinator of pastoral industries Sam Beechey said it “beggars belief that someone could stand there and film something of that nature and not take any (immediate) action about it or against it”.
“I think certainly from any reasonable person’s point of view that if that behaviour was not orchestrated in any way, then everybody should be totally disgusted and those actions should have been reported to the authorities immediately for investigation,” Mr Beechey said.
WoolProducers Australia president Geoff Fisken said he was concerned the PETA investigators could “sit there and take the footage and not do anything to stop it and then use it to sensationalise and sell their message to the media”.
“I find it extraordinary that this hasn’t been passed to the local authorities until now,” Mr Fisken said.
A PETA Australia spokeswoman defended the group’s decision to wait to report cruelty to the authorities.
“Those who had the power to stop the abuse immediately did not,” she said.
“PETA US has been compiling a strong case for authorities which it knows from experience they need to help end this cruelty.”
The RSCPA confirmed it had received complaints from PETA regarding the alleged ill- treatment of sheep in NSW and South Australia, between August 2013 and March 2014.
The Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries also confirmed it received a formal complaint.