Thursday, May 05, 2005

PETA Helps Australian Sheep by Getting Timberland On Board with Boycott

PETA rallies - Animal rights group salutes local company

PORTSMOUTH - A "thank ewe" celebration was held Tuesday in Market Square.

Two representatives of the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) - one dressed as a sheep wearing a bowler hat - were celebrating the decision by Timberland Corp. of Stratham not to knowingly sell products that contain wool harvested in Australia. They also handed out brochures that graphically showed just how the sheep are treated in Australia.

Adam Johnson and Korine Marchand, both of Dover, who were strolling in the square enjoying Tuesday’s weather, said they were shocked by the information PETA campaign coordinator Matt Rice was handing out.

"I won’t buy anything that’s made of Australian wool," said Johnson. "This is a reality check for me on what is inflicted on animals just so we can have clothes.

Marchand seemed equally disturbed.

"I’m going to make sure nothing I buy has wool in it," she said after looking at the PETA pamphlet.

Mark Smith of Kittery, Maine, who was sitting on the large planter on the north side of the square with some friends, said it’s important to let the public know how the Australians harvest wool.

"A lot of people don’t know about these things," he said. "I think it’s good to make this information available."

Smith described himself as "a Timberland man" and said he was happy to hear the company had taken steps not to use the wool.

Timberland has joined such major retailers as Abercrombie & Fitch and J. Crew in boycotting Australian wool because of the process used in collecting the material, called "mulesing." It involves what PETA describes as a "painful mutilation in which Australian farmers use gardening shears to slice chunks of skin and flesh from lambs’ backsides - without any painkillers - in a crude attempt to reduce maggot infestation, even though humane control methods exist."

According to a press release issued by PETA, the Stratham-based retailer made the decision to boycott Australian wool after reviewing video footage showing the cruel treatment of sheep by the Australian wool industry. Timberland officials told representatives of PETA that it "will not knowingly sell products which contain Australian merino wool until the practice of mulesing and live exports stop."

Timberland is a $152 million company with 200 retail locations around the world. No one was available at the company to discuss the company’s decision.

PETA also contends that every year millions of Australian sheep are shipped to the Middle East in open-deck ships through all weather extremes, mired in their own waste, on journeys that take weeks. Sick and injured sheep are thrown overboard to the sharks or ground up alive in mincing machines. When the survivors reach the Middle East, their throats are slit while they are still conscious.

"The way to Aussie farmers’ hearts is through customer choice," said Rice. "With the help of companies like Timberland, we’re showing the Australian wool industry that what’s good for lambs’ bottoms is also good for the bottom line."

For more details and to view a video of the wool-harvesting practice, visit PETA’s Web site,

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