The UGG Australia boot company that everyone knew and loved in elementary and middle school is now under scrutiny for cruelty toward animals killed to make their products.
PETA was one of the first to attack the brand, outing the company’s use of shearling, which is sheepskin with the fleece still attached. The organization reported the inhumane process of UGG’s sheepskin production, releasing a video that shows the chilling reality of the sheepskin industry.
According to PETA, it is considered “normal” in the Australian wool industry for approximately three million young lambs to die each spring in order to supply the materials for clothing production. Shearers are usually paid by volume, rather than by the hour, which encourages fast and rough work that causes harm to the bodies of the sheep. The industry looks for quantity over care, according to PETA, which makes these conditions even worse for the sheep. This is the cruel reality of how these products are created, making it easy for many to turn a blind eye.
Cruelty-free culture seems to be on the rise, and UGG has attempted to justify its production methods in the attempt to keep up with the times. The company has recently released an animal welfare commitment statement on its website in an attempt to bring transparency to these animal cruelty accusations.
In the attempt to cover their tracks, UGG formally outlined that they themselves do not raise the sheep that are used for their products, as they purchase sheepskin from a third party supplier that “must comply with their strict animal welfare policy.” The company also stated that it only purchases sheepskin from tanneries from the U.S., Australia, Ireland, the UK and Spain, as these countries have standards that regulate the treatment of animals.
Though the countries on that list may have “animal treatment standards,” that doesn’t mean the standards are humane. In the wool and meat industries, sheep are crammed into crowded pens. Their tails are cut off, and males are castrated without anesthetics or pain relief.
It’s unknown if UGG has chosen to implement stricter animal treatment rules for the wellbeing of the animals or to ensure they don’t lose customers as more people turn away from purchasing animal products. Though UGG has attempted to justify these animal cruelty accusations and clean up their act, there are still many other cruelty-free options for your cozy winter boot needs. Brands such as BEARPAW, PawJ and Fourever Funky have gotten with the times and released vegan versions of these popular fur boots.
PETA has also provided an extensive list on its website of boot brands that are vegan and cruelty-free.