A Scottish wool farmer has pleaded guilty to animal abuse after he was caught on video punching two sheep in the face, an animal welfare charity said on Tuesday.
William Brown, 59, was fined 550 ($715) under Section 19 of Scotland’s Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006, after he admitted to causing unnecessary suffering to two rams on his farm in Penicuik, south of Edinburgh, in 2018.
The investigation was conducted by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which is authorised to report cases of suspected cruelty to state prosecutors.
Scottish SPCA chief inspector said he hoped the fine “will serve as a warning that this behaviour is unacceptable”.
“He will be fully aware that sheep experience fear and can perceive humans as a threat,” John Chisholm said.
“Violently lashing out at the sheep will spread fear amongst the rest of the flock.”
Brown was filmed by an undercover animal welfare officer sent in by the animal rights organisation People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The organisation, which documented similar cruelty to sheep in England in 2018, said it was the first time a Scottish wool farmer had pleaded guilty after being caught engaged in acts of “flagrant cruelty” to sheep.
“This is a huge milestone – but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” PETA claimed.
“It’s routine in the Scottish wool industry to kick, beat, and stamp on sheep, but so far, only one person… has been charged with cruelty to animals.”
Katie James, a spokesperson for the National Sheep Association, said abuse of sheep was not widespread at all.
Sheep farmers were trained and given guidelines making the animals’ welfare “the highest priority”.