Archive for November 15th, 2006



When we look at Proverbs 12:10 again,


A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal,
but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.


We see a Biblical basis for stewardship and owning animals, something the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) might not necessarily agree with. In stating that “a righteous man cares for the need of his animals”, note that the animal is identified as “his”. To state it another way, the animal that is taken cared for is owned and possessed by the righteous man. It belongs to the man. And one who is righteous would take care of his animals in a biblical display of stewardship.


At times it appears that PETA have an agenda to chip away man’s dominion of domesticated animals even at the price of cruelty to the domesticated animal itself.


An ongoing (as of August 2006) media saavy campaign that PETA has been engaged in lately has been focused on a boycott against the Australian sheep industry. The large campaign targeting the practice of what is popularly called mulesing has effectively gotten Timberland and Abercrombie & Fitch to forsake their business dealings with the Australian sheep businesses. A campaign with threats of boycotts, pictures of bleeding sheeps and emotionally provocative slogans would move most people to be concerned about the plight of what these Australian sheep go through with the process of Mulesing. Mulesing is depicted as cruel and despicable torture, part of a larger industry’s senseless violence. But what is the purpose of this painful infliction called Mulesing in which the flesh of a sheep’s anal area is torn away? Is there a reason that Mulesing is performed? And how is it done?


What surprise it was to discover that Mulesing is actually done for the health and good of the sheep!


First off to begin with, we must deal with the description of it being some deep, harmful cut into the sheep.


In a one page flyer ad released by PETA titled, “The Six Myths of Mulesing”, it described as a myth the idea that “Mulesing isn’t that bad—it’s just a little skin off the rump.[i] It then proceeded to give the fact but in doing so it never addressed the issue or marshal in any evidence that only a little skin off the rump is taken. When we look at a 1996 (eight years before PETA’s boycott began by the way) document printed by the Western Australian Department of Agriculture that provided instruction in Mulesing for sheep herder, we discover that the mulesing involves shallow cuts.[ii]


In that same Australian government document, we also discover the reason behind the practice of Mulesing: “Mulesing to control fly strike in sheep is common practice in Western Australia.”[iii]


What is a ‘fly strike’? We learn elsewhere what ‘fly strike’ is:

“Australia is home to a nasty species of fly (the blowfly) that reproduces by laying eggs in wet wool, particularly around wounds or in healthy but damp areas soiled by feces and urine. When the eggs hatch, the maggots literally eat into the flesh of the sheep and feed for several days — a condition known as “flystrike” — before falling off onto the ground to pupate and become mature insects, starting the cycle anew.”[iv]

And its devastating effect:

“This parasitic maggot infestation — which partially eats the infected animal alive — is not only agonizing, but releases toxins causing afflicted sheep to die lingering and terrible deaths.”[v]

Mulesing protects the sheep because “when the cuts heal, the natural bare area around the vulva and anus is stretched and enlarged. This reduces dampness caused by sweating, urine and faecal staining, and so minimizes susceptibility to flystrike.”[vi]


You would think that PETA would be in support of something that would protect sheeps from literally being eaten alive in a cruel way. What a surprise to discover their boycott based upon this procedure!


Of course, there are followers of PETA who pursue the boycott sincerely thinking it is for the betterment of the sheep because it brings pain to these sheep. However, in the same way a surgery can be painful and is performed for the benefit of saving lives (and for the care of a patient) then in the same way the pain that the sheep goes through is far greater than dying such a painful death as it would suffering from a ‘flystrike’.


Wikipedia list several other alternative to Mulesing:

  • topical protein-based treatments
  • selective breeding
  • organic insecticides
  • biological control of blowflies
  • application of plastic clips to sheep’s skin folds[vii]

Yet as Wikipedia stated, “So far, no alternative method has proved satisfactory and acceptable”, providing reasons such as “The eradication of the strike fly is not a viable alternative”, and “Breeding alternatives are very slow, even if GMO techniques are allowed (which is unlikely)”.[viii] By the time one breeds a survivable sheep breed (assuming it would succeed), many sheeps would have died tragically in the process. Further, medication for the sheep does not exist at this time, as Australian Wool industry is still researching a vaccine or insecticide treatments to protect sheep against flystrike.[ix] Observing PETA in light of Proverbs 12:10, we have to indeed be saddened to note how the kindest, sincere act of PETA can be very cruel to the very animals that it originally sought to protect.

[i] A flyer titled “The Six Myths o f Mulesing”, obtained in Summer, 2006.

[ii] Gherardi, S.G. “Mulesing For Flystrike Control”, Farmnote. Issue 46, 1996: Accessible at http://agspsrv34.agric.wa.gov.au/agency/pubns/farmnote/1996/f04696.pdf

[iii] Ibid, pg. 1.

[iv] Smith, Wesley J. “Tall Tales Down Under: Australian Wool Industry Gets Sheepish In The Face of Animal-Rights Demagoguery”, Discovery Institute, February 10th, 2005: Accessible at http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&program=Bioethics&id=2418

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Gherardi, S.G. “Mulesing For Flystrike Control”, Farmnote. Issue 46, 1996: Accessible at http://agspsrv34.agric.wa.gov.au/agency/pubns/farmnote/1996/f04696.pdf

[vii] “Mulesing”, Wikipedia. July 6th, 2006: Accessible at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulesing

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Plate,
Alice. “Plan for Mulesing Ban Not Realistic”,
SouthAustralianCounty Hour. October 11th, 2004: Accessible at http://www.abc.net.au/rural/sa/stories/s1240324.htm

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