Ugg-ly Boots

St. Scholastica's Student Newspaper
The Cable
By: Tayler Boelk - Student Journalist -
Ugg's boots.

Ugg's boots.

Many people are left feeling sick to their stomach after viewing some of the latest PETA campaigns that can be found on various social media sites. PETA is known for their shocking and sometimes offensive advertisements, including the comparison of animal treatment to the genocide of Jewish people in WWII.

This advertisement features pictures of men stacked up one on the other next to stacked chicken cages, with the writing "To Animals, All Men are Nazis". Following the release of this advertisement and other holocaust related advertisements, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk released this statement: "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses."

Stuart Bender, with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, wrote to PETA asking them to "cease and desist this reprehensible misuse of Holocaust materials." While these advertisements from PETA caused enough controversy as is, they began taking things further with commercials and videos. One video enraged feminists as it depicted a man beating a woman to death to take her fur coat.

Gerry Parnham, a Saint from the class of 1971 states, "Sadly, I think the bar for getting today's society to ‘take notice' has been raised. Yes, the advertisements are mostly offensive and in poor taste. But it seems that is what is required to get the attention of a society that is being overwhelmingly bombarded with messages from a myriad of sources."

Though many people may feel this way, it is clear that PETA is making an effort to get some attention to make positive changes, and have only the best of intentions.

In the latest splurge of advertisements from PETA, one you may be seeing on your Facebook feed is advocating for change in the mistreatment of sheep in Australia, titled "UGGS - Animal Abuse Sheep". This video portrays the horrible treatment of Merino sheep, the breed of sheep used by some of your favorite "UGG" brands including; UGG Australia, Whooga, and EMU (EMU uses a combination of Merino and other wool).

The video depicts the sheep being beaten, loaded into crammed trucks and boats, skinned alive, and being butchered, sometimes still alive.
Kelly Stark, a junior at CSS, was shocked by the content of this video saying, "I had no idea that they weren't put down before they were butchered."

Although Kelly never wore UGGs to begin with she now says she has an entirely new reason not to wear them. This video by PETA follows their usual advertising patterns, shocking photography and video, with a well-known celebrity appearance. In this particular video, popular song artist Pink narrates the video.

Kelly says, "The video had more of an impact on me, likely because it was made with a recognizable celebrity, and also because it had the images of the animals suffering."

PETA gets its message across to the viewers and Pink finishes the video by asking consumers to boycott products that use Australian wool until "Australia bans the mutilation of sheep and stops allowing live exports." This is one thing Kelly, and others who have seen this video agree with.
One of the videos main topics of discussion is mulesing. Mulesing involves the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the buttocks of a sheep to prevent flystrike (myiasis).

Stephanie Anderson, freshman at CSS says, "I usually am not one to turn away because of blood, but the images shown made me both cringe and avert my eyes."

I contacted a representative from UGG Australia and asked for their reaction to the video. Max Gruber, the representative I spoke to says, "UGG Australia has condemned the practice of mulesing, and we require all of our suppliers to certify that they do not supply any materials or products from sheep which have been mulesed."

He also made it very clear that UGG Australia does not import sheepskins from the Middle East as the video suggests. All sheepskin that they use are a by-product from the meat industry, and are not being killed just for skin. There also have been many articles surfacing about the abuse of other animals involved with making UGG knock-offs. This includes the Raccoon dog, a species related to the domestic dog. Animal rights activists also released a video showing the cruel treatment of this animal in China.

Grober tells CSS readers, "We ask all who are concerned about humane treatment of sheep, and abuse of raccoon dog and other fur bearing animals, to help us stamp out the plague of counterfeits. Counterfeits often use products such as inhumanely raised sheep, raccoon dog, dangerous chemicals, that we would never use."

PETA continues encouraging action from the public by protesting in Sydney, Australia. At an animal rights exhibition in Sydney, a rowboat was filled with hundreds of fake animals to draw attention to the live sheep/cattle shipping. The animals in the display held signs reading "try to relate to my fate."

The display follows a PETA ad campaign, featuring actual pictures of sheep piled into boats, which was rejected by Sydney Ferries and Queensland Rail for containing "shock imagery." The ad reads "Their Commute Is a Real Killer. Ban Live-Animal Export" and was intended to be placed in ferries, railroads, and other methods of public transportation.

Transport NSW spokesmen released this statement regarding the rejection, "Under the contract between Transport for NSW and Harbour City Ferries, the operator must not advertise or permit advertising `political, religious or other subject matter which is contentious or offensive.'"

PETAs Campaign Coordinator, Claire Fryer says "It's taking away the chance for commuters to relate to the animals." She later added that it was the first time an advertisement "of the type" had been rejected. Not everyone agrees with PETAs methods of advertisement, but most can agree that a lot of changes still need to be made to better the treatment of sheep and other animals.

If you have further interest in this topic, I encourage you to visit PETA.org and http://www.deckers.com/company/corporate-responsibility/animal-welfare.