Wool animals typically have to go through the cruel industry breeding system, which is merciless and does not take into account the emotions of the animals there. Some animals may be auctioned off and end up as dinner at a fancy restaurant. Furthermore, they aren't sheared by hand. Instead, there are machines that shear them, and, obviously, machines do not take into account the suble movements of the gentle creatures, so they end up with little cuts on their bodies. They are shipped around the world, and the ones who are too weak to carry on are left to die. Once in Australia or New Zealand, a kind woman took in a dying sheep and nursed her back to health. The sheep proved to be a wonderful companion!
Admittedly, sometimes the situation is different. For example, I went to an alpaca farm and the alpacas were treated better than this. However, these alpacas were raised as pets, not as an industry. Anyway, it is still irresponsible to breed animals into the world as toys for our enjoyment and when there are still so many who need homes.
Not all animals in the wool industry have hooves, however. Angora rabbits are highly prized for their wool, even today. A few months ago, I looked at the tag on my old sweater and discovered that it was made of Angora wool! I was shocked! I couldn't deal with the thought of the suffering that went into it, so I donated it right away. You see, most angora rabbits are bred in China, according to the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation's Report. From the same source, Chinese Angora rabbits are kept at temperatures around 30 degrees Celcius! That is quite hot for us humans, but rabbits with all that fur must be sweltering! I could go on, but I hope that gives you an idea.
There are definitely alternatives to end this cruel practice. You can find acrilic and cotton fibers to knit with (I like knitting; I tried it last weekend), and so many clothing options are available in stores. It may come down to curbing a shopping impulse here and there, but most wool is heavy and scratchy anyway, so why would anyone want it to begin with?
Things you can do to stop the wool industry in it's tracks:
1) Stop using wool!
2) Encourage your friends and family to stop using wool and get them to read about why.
3) Ask a store that uses a lot of wool to stop producing wool clothes, and don't shop there until they do.
4) Spread the word! Post on your blogs, websites, and social networking sites to stop using wool, or simply post a link to my blog.
I hope you found this post interesting and useful! And come back to learn how to have an animal-friendly Christmas next week! And in the meantime, answer the poll shown to the right!
For your interest, I have included this table from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation's Report to give you an idea of which animals are most used for wool.
Table 1. World production of animal fibres (from Leeder et al 1998)
Animal Source vs. World Production (tons)
Sheep fine wool 100,000
Goat mohair 25,000
Rabbit angora 8,500
Goat cashmere 5,200