July 2005 -- Connie Theos of Meeker, Colo., made time to write People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and confront the organization about its boycott of wool. Published below is Connie?s letter to PETA, along with their response, reprinted from The Colorado Sheepman News.
I was informed by a friend in Arizona that your organization is carrying out a boycott of Australian wool. I logged onto savethesheep.com and was angered that you should include all wool in your boycott.
We operate a range-sheep ranch in northwest Colorado and take better care of our sheep than we do ourselves. We work from daylight-thirty to dark-thirty making certain that our sheep have good feed, clean water and open space in which to forage and ?just be sheep.? We take pride in the fact that we have little to no illness and therefore, use little in the way of antibiotics. My guess is that most of your members are city dwellers, who would delight in living as well as our sheep.
We have herders who make certain that the sheep have a different bed-ground each night and do as much as they can, with the assistance of guard dogs, to protect them from predators; here in our area the coyote is the worst. Our ranch lost 423 lambs from spring docking until fall shipping time, and with a high estimate of a 5-percent death loss from natural causes, the rest were the ?victims? of predators.
We shear our sheep in April each year. You have to shear sheep annually in order to keep them healthy. Wool is a wonderful fiber. It can be warm or it can be cool, depending upon the weave. It is a natural fiber and therefore, breaths and is better for the wearer. Wool is a renewable resource, not like the synthetics you are promoting that are made from petroleum products. Wool is a safe fiber in that is does not combust, it will smolder instead.
Humans have worn wool, cotton, linen and silk from the time they figured out how to weave the fibers. These are natural products, not synthetics, and here in the United States produced by people who truly care about what they are doing.
We feed good-quality alfalfa and corn and they have sage brush to supplement their diet. Sheep kept in the open do well; they have few respiratory problems because they are in the fresh air. The wool keeps them warm and dry, just as it does with humans.
I truly wish that your organization would not make blanket statements, without realizing the damage that you do to people like us.
I really guess that you don?t care because you are more concerned with furthering your organization than you really are about saving animals. I remind you that people are animals too, and you should be just as concerned about what happens to them. You need to realize that when we can not sell our wool, it could mean that we may not be able to afford to purchase the high-quality feed that we use. What you people do creates a chain reaction.
If you had the courage of your convictions you would add to your savethesheep.com that the purchase of American wool is a good choice because it comes from well-cared for animals, which will live to grow another coat next year.
Thank you for your e-mail. As an animal rights organization, PETA does not condone the exploitation of animals for any purpose. Regardless of how humanely sheep are treated on American ranches, virtually all sheep raised for their skin or fleece are eventually slaughtered for their flesh. They are often forced to live on feedlots prior to slaughter, and many have their throat slit while fully conscious.
Simply because human beings have exploited animals for thousands of years, does not make it okay to continue to do so. People have started wars, murdered, raped, pillaged and exploited other human beings, including women, for thousands of years, but enlightened societies do not condone these practices.
Ultimately, there is the simple, moral principle that we do not have the right to manipulate and kill animals for our own purposes. Animals do not belong to us, and their lives are just as precious to them as yours or mine is to you or me. A country that eats animals or wears the fur, skin or wool of animals, will always view them as possessions, products and commodities, as opposed to individuals with feelings, families and friendships. And as long as people view animals as objects, widespread institutionalized abuse is destined to continue. I hope this helps explain our position ? to compromise it would be a betrayal of both the animals and our members. Thanks again for your e-mail.
Mathhew Rice, PETA