“Ugh” is right. In a chilling video last week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals revealed the “ugly truth” about UGG, a line of sheepskin-lined boots that people either hate to love or love to hate. “Sheep in the wool industry are abused, kicked, and often have violent wounds from shearing,” the 60-second spot notes over footage of sheep in various states of distress. “All of this before being killed.” The video, which was posted on Facebook, has been viewed over 37 million times. It has also attracted 61,000 comments—most of them expressing disgust at the footwear brand. “Omg this is one of the saddest things I’ve seen I can’t believe humans can be so cruel!!! There is just no need for this at all [sic],” one woman wrote. “Never ever buying them again, thanks for letting know [sic],” said another.
Despite the horrifying images, the video has become the “single most popular post on any PETA Facebook page ever,” said the animal-rights group in a press release.
“PETA’s video shows that every pair of UGG boots supports the ugly, gruesome abuse, and killing of gentle sheep,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA’s executive vice president. “As millions of shoppers learn that the wool industry mutilates and kills these animals, more people than ever are giving its cruelly produced items the boot.”
Over the past couple of years, the organization has released five exposés recorded at 39 sheep-rearing facilities on three continents. All revealed the same tableau of mutilation, violence, and abuse.
“PETA’s video shows that every pair of UGG boots supports the ugly, gruesome abuse and killing of gentle sheep,” PETA said.
“Shearers are often paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast, violent work that can lead to gaping wounds on sheep’s bodies,” Reiman said. “The wounds are then stitched closed—without—giving the animals any painkillers.”
Not all the comments on the Facebook post were anti-UGG, however.
“You realize sheep have to be sheared right?? [sic]” huffed one.
Another commenter defended UGG’s transparency. “PETA may have s good foundation of wanting to maintain exceptional animal welfare, but that does not mean everything they say or show you is true,” she said. “They have an agenda like anyone else and want you to bite at what they’re selling no matter how they have to get you to do it. Be smarter than that.”
On its website, UGG claims to select only suppliers who meets its strict standards of ethical sourcing—animal welfare included.
“UGG requires all of our suppliers to use humane animal treatment in order to prevent animal abuse and animal cruelty,” it writes. “UGG believes that no sheep should ever be raised for their sheepskin alone.”
But PETA would rather direct your attention to the assortment of UGG-like boots designed to keep your feet snug sans bloodshed.
Among them are a line of vegan-friendly “beach boots” by actress and animal activist Pamela Anderson. Bonus: They’re made in part from recycled materials.
“Sheep are friendly, gentle animals,” PETA’s video adds “They deserve better than this.”