Shearing sheep is one thing, activists say—and shearing them while shouting or attacking the animals is quite another. That was PETA's argument against Australian sheep shearers last year when the group revealed video shot by an undercover operative, ABC News Australia reports. But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals disallowed the video for reasons that aren't clear, and the case turned on alleged verbal abuse. "I think it is conceivable that verbal abuse of an extreme nature against an animal, whether it be human, sheep or otherwise, could constitute an act of violence," says Nicolah Donovan, president of Lawyers for Animals. But Ken Turner, head of the sheep-shearing station involved, scoffed at the notion.
"I still haven't had a sheep come to me (to complain)—they didn't even look offended to me after they were shorn," says Turner, 9 News reports. "I thought, is this a joke? Is this April Fools?" PETA lost the case, and some media outlets poked fun at the story. But video on PETA's website (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT) appears to show Australian sheep shearers punching sheep in the face and striking them in the head with a hammer and metal clippers. Sheeps were reportedly left bleeding from their mouths, noses, and eyes. And some graziers recently admitted that livestock work requires "a degree of intimidation," says ABC. "There is no such thing as 'humane' wool," a PETA official told NBC News last year. "The industry is infested with violence and PETA documented cruelty in nearly every shearing shed that we entered." (Read more animal cruelty stories.)