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article imageSheep are silent as PETA complains over swearing in front of them

By Karen Graham     May 27, 2015 in World
The animal rights group, PETA, made a formal complaint in September 2014 against a sheep shearer in the far west of New South Wales after they had received a tip about the abuse of sheep.
Warning: The video has disturbing scenes.
The New South Wales branch of the RSPCA found that the allegations of abuse had taken place at Boorungie Station, 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Broken Hill.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), filed charges of abuse against the sheep station's owner, saying they had testimony (not from the sheep), as well as video supplied by an undercover source to back the charges up.
Ken Turner, who operates Boorungie Station, said the complaint itself suggested the sheep understood English. "The basis for the concerns was the rights of the animals, that they might have been harassed by viewing things they shouldn't have seen or verbal abuse by people using bad language," he said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Steve Coleman, CEO of NSW RSPCA, told the Daily Mail, Australia the footage of the alleged sheep abuse could not be used in the court case because it had been obtained without the permission of the owner of private property. What it ended up being was a case of "he said, she said."
"We felt the footage was inadmissible and therefore we relied on what oral evidence came from both parties," he said. "It was conflicting and on that basis we were unable to continue." He did say that while verbal abuse was difficult to prove because of the tape not being admissible, there were other parts to the complaint. But the use of verbal abuse still stands out.
Several other animal rights organizations agreed that language can be considered as abusive, but it is less what you say and more about how it's said. The president of Lawyers for Animals, Nicolah Donovan told news reporters, "We have accepted that domestic violence can certainly be constituted by acts of extreme verbal abuse...This might be the case with children or farm animals, and the level of abuse needn't be that extreme to cause that kind of fear in an animal."
Lynda Stone of Animal Liberation NSW is quoted saying, "I'm not sure all animals can understand different dialects ... What they will be getting though is the threat inherent in the way that voice is used. I believe they can absolutely comprehend emotion."
The charges against the sheep station were finally dropped, according to a one-line story on May 20, 2015. But while PETA is now saying the issues behind their complaint did not involve offensive language, but physical abuse, it still raises an important question that needs to be discussed.
So, if we are yelling or using foul language directed toward an animal, is this not considered verbal abuse? Many people do this to their children, either belittling them verbally or swearing at them. Isn't this considered abuse?
What do my readers think?
More about New South Wales, mistreatment of sheep, Animal rights, Peta, swearing in front of sheep
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