I just heard that a high school in Pennsylvania has banned students from wearing UGG boots to class. Apparently the kids have been hiding all sorts of things in them, from mobile phones to chocolate bars!
But not many people realise that the boots themselves hide an even UGGlier truth. They are made from the skin of Australian sheep -- not just the wool -- the skin.
And it's not just the fact that animals can't actually live without their skin, but sheep raised in Australia for their wool have a tough time from the moment their life begins.
At least 20% of lambs born each year die shortly after birth, from exposure during freezing cold spring nights, infections or fox attacks. That's millions of babies referred to as 'wastage' annually. And those that survive could hardly be called lucky. Lambs are often castrated and have their tails cut off without any pain relief -- wait, that isn't even the worst of it.
Over many generations Aussie farmers have bred Merino sheep to have so much skin (more skin=more wool!) that the wrinkles around the sheep's bum can lead to deadly flystrike. The farmers' solution? Cut off the wrinkles. That's right, no miracle cream here, just cut them off!
And that's exactly what happens. The lambs are restrained on their backs with their little legs tied together while slices of skin are cut away from around their bottoms. This is often done with NO pain relief and always leaves gaping bloody wounds - these are baby animals!
This horror procedure is called mulesing. It's so painfully gruesome that when Pamela Anderson learned of it, she stopped wearing her trademark UGGS straight away and began campaigning against the cruelty and the company.
How is this even legal? I mean if that happened to a kitten or a puppy, the abuser would be charged with animal cruelty. But here in Australia, farm animals just don't get the same legal protection as our pets do, even though they too feel fear and pain. Sheep have even been shown to remember individual faces of their flock mates and people they see regularly. Can you imagine the terror they feel as adults when the person that mutilated their backside upends them again at shearing time?