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PETA sheep abuse video prompts Colorado investigation; state sheep industry condemns 'rogue' shearer

Posted at 10:25 PM, Jul 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-11 10:48:59-04

An undercover PETA video showing shearers punching, throwing and abusing sheep has prompted investigations in two Colorado counties.

Wool industry leaders said what happened in the video is indefensible.

"The person who did this should be prosecuted," said Bonnie Brown with the Colorado Wool Growers Association. "Everything about that was wrong."

PETA said that an 18-month undercover investigation documented abuse from one traveling crew at 14 ranches in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

According to PETA, in Moffat County, undercover video showed a shearer bending a sheep's neck until it broke.

Warning: The video depicts graphic images of animal abuse that may be disturbing for some viewers. Click to watch.

PETA has been accused of staging video in the past, and would not turn over the unedited footage to RTV6 sister station 7NEWS, citing the ongoing law enforcement investigation.

However, 7NEWS has confirmed that Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz is sifting through more than 100 hours of unedited footage from the animal rights agency, and he said there may be cause for animal cruelty charges.

The Montrose County Sheriff's Office is also investigating.

However, the sheep industry said what's caught on camera is far from the industry standard -- that shearing done correctly is not rough or cruel.

Brown said the abuser in the video is not a rancher. She said it was one rogue contractor.

"One of the things I'll be working very strongly with my ranchers is to make absolutely certain when they have a crew there, they are inside the pens in the shearing shed," said Brown.

"This is not a rogue shearer, not a bad apple, this is pervasive," said Dan Paden with PETA, who argued that ultimately, as long as people want wool someone will cut corners and animals will pay the price. "No one wants to support animal cruelty, and that is what our investigation found."
No charges have been filed against the shearer or his supervisors.