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Debunking UGG® Boots And Their “UGGly” Reputation

by Amanda Radke
Nov 25, 2013

 

A response to the negative media attention of UGG boots and the sheep industry.

As cattle producers, I believe it’s important to band together when a segment of the livestock industry is under attack. A few weeks ago, I came across an article that appeared on Yahoo! entitled, “UGGs® and Their ‘UGGly’ Reputation.” Written by Zac Johnson, the piece described the “horrors” of how the popular UGG boots are made.

The article has since been removed because of the false information presented, but reading through the comments section, it is clear there are some misconceptions among the public regarding animal hides.

In his article, Johnson describes how sheep are skinned alive to make the expensive, trendy boot that many people wear during the winter months. The boots were made popular when Pamela Anderson wore them during her role on the show, “Baywatch.”

In 2007, Pamela Anderson apparently finally realized that her UGG boots were made of sheepskin. You may recognize Anderson as a spokesperson for PETA, one of those celebrity gals who pose naked to campaign against wearing fur. Anyway, she posted this statement on her website: "I thought they [sheep] were shaved kindly? People like to tell me all the time that I started that trend – yikes! Well, let's start a new one – do NOT buy Uggs! Buy Stella McCartney or juicy boots."

 

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According to Wikipedia, “In February 2008, the Princeton Animal Welfare Society staged a campus protest against the fur industry, particularly attacking the UGG boot industry.

"Students lay in the newly fallen snow on the Frist Campus Center's North Front Lawn, feigning death, wearing coats covered with fake blood and sporting signs that read, 'What if you were killed for your coat?'"

It is important for shoppers to understand that sheepskin is the same as any other kind of leather. It is a by-product of processing sheep for human consumption. The animal is not skinned alive in the process, and sheep are not killed for their skins. Every inch of the animal is used for meat and by-products that can enrich human lives.

It is interesting to note, however, that the rise in popularity of UGG boots has been the driving force in recent shortages of sheepskins, with a resulting 80% rise in sheepskin prices between 2010 and 2012.

Please help spread the word that UGG boots are made humanely procured by respectfully harvesting the sheep, and using the animal hide as a by-product to make boots and other sheepskin and wool-based items.

What do you think about this controversy? What’s the best way to respond to erroneous information posted online? Have you ever tried to correct such misinformation Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

 

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Discuss this Blog Entry 67

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Thanks for stepping up to correct these misconceptions (falsehoods) about UGG boots and many others concerning livestock production.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 30, 2013

Sorry, but this article is wrong. UGGs themselves have acknowledged that they use sheepSKIN! It is extremely cruel and painful to the sheep as they are killed.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 24, 2014

Are you stupid? Did you just choose to not read the entire article? Skin and hide are the same thing. The animals are not harmed in the process. Educate yourself before you comment

Anonymous (not verified)
on Mar 31, 2014

I believe death constitutes being harmed in the process.

A.morelli (not verified)
on Jan 9, 2014

If ugh boots are made humanely, where in the heck did they get that horrid video? It made sick. Who does that to the sheep? Someone had to take the video, who was it, did they know they were being filmed? How did PETA find out about it ? I want to know who does this to helpless animals?

LK (not verified)
on Jan 18, 2014

I also would like answers to those questions.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

"UGG boots are made humanely procured by respectfully [slaughtering] the sheep"

Yes, so humane...to take a life so that someone can look stylish.

Slave to the Economy (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Your just another example of society's ignorance at it's finest.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

No, for meat to feed people. And then we use the rest of the animal that we cannot eat in every way possible so as not to waste! You offend a lot of people in the meat industry when you assume crap like this! We go to work everyday with pride knowing that we do our best (and always looking for ways to get better) in the areas of humane handling, food safety, quality, and sustainability! "Stylish" is the last thing on our minds my friend...

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

Good response. We should not have to offer explanations for what is an essential element of life.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

If you read through the article you will notice that the author states that the leather and fur used comes from sheep that are being used for human food. If we didn't use the fur and leather from animals that are already being used for their meat products they would simply go to waste. Animals in the USA and Canada are given the utmost care and respect that they deserve from pasture to plate. Although it sounds awful to think of slaughter you must understand that these facilities are regulated and trained so that animals are calm and comfortable, and none are under stress before they are put down. As hard as it is to understand how using something for it's products could be humane, if we didn't use animal products there would be no way the world could support the 7 billion people, both food wise and for consumer products. PETA does a really good job of using awful cases, many or which they themselves create, to try and make people against the agriculture industry. I'm not sure where you're from, but I can speak for the majority of farmers and ranchers when I say that the people most concerned with animal welfare are the very people that spend all day everyday looking after the wellbeing of the animals - our agriculture industry.
I am very against animal abuse and the unethical treatment of animals but I do understand that without the agriculture industry no one would survive, there would be no food and no products. I have done much research in the area, visited meat processing plants and attended many conferences regarding the slaughter of animals, and I can promise you at each one the number one priority was ensuring the animals were treated as humanely as possible. There is no way around using animals for meat, so instead of fighting this, people need to look at the big picture and support the places that are using ethical and humane animal treatment and the companies that do support this.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Are you daft?? What slaughter house makes animals calm and comfortable?? What slaughter house uses humane methods? They are NOT given the utmost care and respect,.pasture to plate. In my opinion, you are an agri business supporter is hiding behind your anonymous id to placate fears with a bunch of b.s. Really, where is the proof that treatment is humane? Any one can write as much as they want to claim their side is the truth. Proof. People want proof.

on Nov 25, 2013

Anonymous, you didn't put your name either...but I will tell you that every slaughter house strives to be humane. They truly do treat animals with respect and the point is that the animals are calm and comfortable up until the point of death. They are not afraid and are not stressed. We use every part of the animal to improve the life of humans. I am a proud cattle rancher who has spent a lot of time in slaughter plants. I am confident that my animals have the best of care at my ranch, at the feedyard and at the slaughter house to provide safe, nutritious food for my family and others. We need the byproducts from animals. I love my Ugg boots--they are so warm!

alexis (not verified)
on Jan 12, 2014

if you and hundreds of other people were shoved in a truck, then on a boat, then into a small smelly room , then watch the other people get hung upside down then killed would you be "calm"? If you get uggs you minus well tape your mothers cut off face to your foot. Animals are animals hun.

Elle (not verified)
on Jul 31, 2014

Every slaughter house does not strive to be humane. Some, yes, but not all. If you have any question of this, watch the movie "Earthlings". Are you not aware of the methods of cow trafficking and slaughter in India? India provides some of the largest quantities of leather for clothing in the world. I would love to buy a nice leather coat for riding my motorcycle but I have no idea where to get one where I can be certain that the animal it came from was raised humanely, killed in the least stressful way possible and that the leather was tanned and dyed with the least amount of toxic chemicals in order to leave a lighter load of toxicity in our water, earth and my skin and lungs. I appreciate that you are a careful rancher, it would be fantastic if more people like you banded together with slaughterhouses, tanneries and garment industries to provide a product people don't have to feel guilty about wearing. I am also an advocate of the mobile slaughterhouse. It provides the least amount of stress to the animal. Short of lovingly raising my own lamb or cow, sneaking up on it or swiftly and unknowingly killing it, properly processing it, tanning my own leather and then sewing my own jacket, I see very little way to ensure that I'm not contributing to some truly awful treatment of the planet and it's inhabitants, no matter human animal or another species.

Rebecca (not verified)
on Nov 26, 2013

Maybe you should go out and actually tour some processing facilities. The videos on YouTube are only a snapshot of the worst. I challenge you to go out and tour 5 facilities then you can tell me if they are treated humanely. Don't talk about a place that you have never stepped foot in.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

Why don't YOU visit some of these farms and slaughterhouses? And not just 1, visit several, in several states, then talk shit.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

Why don't YOU visit some of these farms and slaughterhouses? And not just 1, visit several, in several states, then talk shit.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 28, 2014

Let me start by saying I am a vegetarian. I don't wear fur or use products that have been tested on animals, but, there are slaughter houses that do try to create 'humane' conditions, such as those that work under the design of Temple Grandin.
I would love if the world stopped eating meat, but certified humane meat, and those farms that do take measures to create these less stressful environments are at the the very least, progress.
At this point I am not sure what to believe about UGGs. Proof, like you mentioned, would be very helpful in this case.

tonya (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Thank you for clarifying. The pictures and video were so convincing! I'm from South Dakota, ag heartland! It's good to know that there was no waste and that the slaughter is truly humane.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Jan 10, 2014

How would you know the animals are calm have you spoken to them about it, are people on death row cool with being killed. In any case your point is lost UGG's are not manufactured in Canada nor the US but in China.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 16, 2014

I completely agree and secondly add that unless you have been to those places and experience the maintenance and care of these animals you will never know. This argument is stupid and pathetic because of course people are going to put the bad news and worse situations online because THATS what people want to read and hear. It's interesting... I mean who is going to read an article entitled: "UGG Look after their beautiful fluffy Sheep" . So just think about it please!

Jonkeau (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

I think you have a misconception about the commercial fur and leather trade versus the illegal black market fur and leather trade in general. It would be one thing if lamb was an animal which we did not consume the meat of, but lamb is one of the most consumed meats on the planet, therefore not to use every part of the animal would be wasteful and inhumane. Please get the facts, just because you don't eat lamb doesn't mean other people don't eat it, to be uninformed is to be culturally insensitive.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

I've toured an abbatoir in Australia and watched the entire process. Yes, it is done humanely. Instead of disposing of the sheepskin, it is used to make boots. I'd call this resourceful rather than wasteful.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

If you wear/use anything that has or uses leather. Or eat any kind of meat. I don't want to hear a comment like this coming from you.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

You still don't get the article do you? The sheep are harvested for meat. That is the reason. Once sheep have been harvested, their by products, (wool, bones, hooves) are used for other purposes. In this case, UGG boots.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

The point of the article is saying that is NOT why they are killed. They are killed for the FOOD that they provide to people, and we make use of all parts of the animal including the skin to stay warm. Even though they are popular we do have to admit that they are still butt UGGly.

If you are a vegetarian and have an ethical problem with eating any kind of meat, that is an entirely different conversation. The point of the article is about how the sheep are a) not skinned alive and b) used for more than just their coats.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 28, 2013

I think you missed the point....he said the sheep are slaughtered for food....the hide is a by-product so instead of just chucking it, it is put to use.

Hodgea (not verified)
on Dec 2, 2013

No, it isn't just to look stylish. Every part of the animal is used, as stated above. The skins are used for this, but could be used for other things too....sheep skins have been used in everything from clothes, water canteens to condoms! In fact, sheep are one of the animals that we can use so much of...so, it's life is not taken in vanity but for the use of meat, and products we use every day.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 18, 2013

You are kidding right? I hope you feel the same about leather jackets, leather boots, leather heels, leather gloves, leather tennis shoes, leather furniture, vehicles withleather interior, steaks, pork chops, sausage, bacon, ham, turkey, chicken, lamb, venison, etc. or you might just be a hypocrite. When they kill an animal to feed people (which God said you can do and believe me when I say you don't trump God) they have to skin the animal to get to the meat, instead of wasting the skin they make things from it. Whats wrong with that?

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Thank you for you info concerning HSUS and PETA. As a person who shows and raises dogs and also a a farmers wife I understand their deceptive practices. Thank you for trying to shed some light on this

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

I don't know why people in this "over information" day and age do not understand by-products. We don't just kill the animal and take one thing we want and not use the rest. We use everything that can be used from all livestock including cattle, sheep , goats, pigs and others. We need to let people know our livestock industry is not just about meat. It includes everything from the whole animal. Stuff they use every day without a thought to where it comes from. Until some misinformed celebrity yells untruths about it.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

are these people stupid enough to think we are mean enough to just take maybe one layer of the skin or something, again , I think agriculture needs better PR to try to educate our city brothers

Sheep producer (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Thanks for standing up for fellow livestock industries!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

People involved in the agriculture industry should ignore the ignorant idiots who hypocritically protest those of us who, after all, provide the world with the most basic essentials of life. Instead, we should keep improving our industry and focus on sustaining something that has been lost in the culture around us. After all, the demand for animals and their by-products will never decline over all.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

As we try to get our minds around some of this stuff, even our words fail to make sense to us. I know one thing. I have just spent time at a water conference and the great majority of the folks there were united in breaching dams and making rivers free and wild again. Nuts we say, but, to these people it is high cause. The other thing that is most notable is they outnumber us dramatically in the shout matches and they have committed funds to address their agendas. We must figure out substantive ways to defend our customs and culture or we are in bigger trouble than we can imagine. I must admit I can not stand to see another tattoo, a protest sign, or an idiot spewing poison about my way of life.

on Nov 25, 2013

Good job Amanda. One thing you failed to mention, they are still ugly.

smsample (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

Thank you Amanda!! I missed the bad article - But thanks for putting the facts out there. As for anyone who has any questions about the sheep industry or wants to see a real life sheep farm, I invite you out to Kimball anytime to see our flock. I can almost guarantee that my families lambs live a better lifestyle than us kids do! They get a carefully balanced ration every day, cool barns to live in when it's hot and when it's really cold the pregnant ewes can spend their entire days inside in the nice warm barn. While a big portion of our lambs end up as someones yummy lamb dinner, we still care deeply for each and every one - I can't tell you how many times I've had to wipe tears out of my eyes when we loose a little lamb, the hours of sleep lost because I had a ewe lambing to watch over or finding strength I didn't know I had to carry a 130 lb lamb into the barn because he was sick and needed treatment. I am proud that my families business not only feeds hundreds every year, but that our sheeps wool and pelts go into use in the clothing industry!

Avatar (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

UGG boots are now made in China.

Regarding fur clothes, I recall an incident some years back in front of a Broadway theater. Anti-fur people congregate there in the winter because fur coats are likely to be evident. One protester accosted a lady with, "Do you have any idea how many helpless animals had to be slaughtered for you to have that coat?" The lady responded, "Do you have any idea how many animals I had to sleep with to get this coat?"

on Nov 26, 2013

Now that, is funny.

W.E. (not verified)
on Nov 25, 2013

How does one counter the kind of disconnected thinking that would isolate the making of boots from the fact that livestock are able to feed and clothe humanity grazing only grass? Those of us who spend our lives and our time caring for cattle, sheep and goats know that these domesticated herd animals would not even exist if human beings hadn't needed and developed them over the ages in order to live, to stay healthy, and to clothe ourselves. Domesticated livestock were originally developed to supply the needs of human beings for quality protein, and to replace the wildlife that we would otherwise have depleted. Ruminant livestock graze grass that human beings can't digest, naturally replenishing the fertility of the land where they graze. Properly grazed and rested, the land needs no artificial chemical fertilizer in order to grow highly nutritious food. The land and the animals do, however, require a great deal of human care, attention and responsive work. We take care of the needs of our animals and our land, and they in turn take care of human needs. Consumers who live in cities, buying all of their food and never participating in the raising of it, rarely understand how the world was really designed to function. Be careful, Anonymous, what you say. Each time you so flippantly condemn those of us who do the work of raising the animals that allow you to stay alive and well-nourished, you undercut our confidence that we are doing any good by working so hard to fulfill your needs. Use your protein-hungry brain to think about the consequences of a world without livestock. If the earth is continually laid to waste and never truly replenished, not even the heights of technology will save humanity from the deserts our cities have created.

on Nov 29, 2013

W.E., do you have a post for every situation, that is worded to promote grass-fed?

W.E. (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2013

Yes, Mathena, pretty much. Why? Because direct marketing of grassfed beef has proven itself to be our farm's salvation. Grazing our cattle to finish and marketing their beef directly to grateful consumers helped us pay off a mountain of debt, reducing inputs while vastly improving the quality of the soil on our once-industrial farm. We can even justify taking acres out of corn production, putting them under beef, profitably and naturally renewing our crop land. Returning a significant portion of beef production to grass and getting the beef industry to recognize local production as a viable alternative to centrally concentrated feedlots in this country would be a viable and achievable solution to myriad problems, from broken rural economies to soil erosion, from consumer disconnection to the sustainability of family farms. So yes, I will keep writing, trying to chisel away at the rock-hard feedlot paradigm that has kept cattlemen chained to the big packers for the past seven decades.

monte (not verified)
on Dec 8, 2013

W.E. you might want to visit a city one day and look into the concept of urban farming. While urban farming does not yet feed the masses of urban millions the trend is expanding and it is so different from your paradigm. For most urban farmers, growing their own food is about and entire life pattern and you better bet they understand nature's cycles, how the word was "designed". We are in fact re-designing it. Best wishes to you and I hope you broaden your horizons.

K (not verified)
on Nov 26, 2013

I did take the opportunity to inform 2 friends that "liked" the Uggly article on Facebook. Both women are intelligent and well educated. One is a vegetarian the other takes pride in raising their own food, including meat for her family. However, both bought into the article as truthful because PETA said so. I was compelled to attempt to set the record straight. Interestingly enough neither commented. It is a sad day when PETA and HSUS are considered credible sources of information. We, the ag community, have our work cut out to change perceptions and set the record straight!

Debbie Tice (not verified)
on Nov 26, 2013

This has been circulating on facebook and I also defended the process and UGGs in particular. I even went to far as to contact the company for their take on the whole thing. We continually have to be educating the public with the truth or they will believe anything that PETA puts out there!! Thanks again Amanda for your hard work. The folks that had "liked" this on facebook were teachers and other educated people - just needed further educating. And even so, why are people paying of $200 for these boots - yikes!! I know my budget does not allow for it, but I guess it is a boon to the struggling sheep industry.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 26, 2013

did any of the people who believed the PETA article stop and think? It makes no sense- as horrible it is to think about- how could that be easier than taking a pelt from a sheep that has been humanely euthanized? just makes you wonder how many paid peta people are out there parroting their lies.

Jenn (not verified)
on Nov 26, 2013

We live in a day and age where we don't need to eat animals, or use their by products. Why do we have standards for one mammal, and not another? Having seen the conditions on factory farms and feedlots first hand, there is nothing humane about it. Justify it all you want. I DO NOT stay alive, and am not nourished from consuming animals. I am nourished by all the other things the earth provides me. I know there are ranchers and farmers out there who, do give their animals a fairly decent life before they are slaughtered for whatever indulgent purpose we have, the demand of the industry creates a need fulfilled largely by factory farming.

Also a Jen (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

Uhhh, I have no idea what "factory farms"/feedlots you've been to, all the ones I've been to feed their animals better than I'm able to feed myself even when working multiple jobs...but we do still need to use animal by-products. If we took everything that had an animal by-product off the shelf there would be nothing left to buy, no more music, no more modern medicine, etc. Also the more money they make off their animals, the better farmers are able to equip themselves to tend to their livestock so the more you attack their livelihood (as well as the more cities push out onto agricultural land) the more likely it is that they're going to be forced to overcrowd their animals just to make ends meet.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Nov 27, 2013

We need to write more letters to the editor of publications like the New York times letting the public know that hides are a by product that is often thrown away and wasted, while more oil is pumped to make artificial clothes. Anyone in Ag would know this was a stupid article, but we need to seek out and write those who believe such stupidity.

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