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07/17/2014 11:31 am ET Updated Jul 17, 2014

PETA Undercover Sheep-Shearing Video Appears To Show Shocking Animal Abuse

Undercover PETA video of sheep shearing reveals what appears to be shocking animal abuse in the United States.

The footage, posted to YouTube July 9, allegedly shows handlers beating and throwing the sheep. In the clip, a wool worker appears to twist the neck of one of the animals until its neck breaks. The sheep are also filmed sustaining painful wounds, including on their genitals, apparently from careless blade work.

On its website, PETA said it documented the abuse at ranches in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska in March and April. The video prompted investigations by police.

(WARNING: Video below contains graphic footage)

While condemning the cruelty as unacceptable and launching an investigation of its own, the American Sheep Industry Association criticized PETA for waiting so long to reveal the footage. An association spokeswoman also said the brutality presented was done by "one rogue shearer." "It’s depicted as if it’s indicative of our industry," Rita Samuelson told The Huffington Post.

But in a report by The Denver Channel, PETA's Dan Paden asserted the cruelty was widespread. "This is not a rogue shearer, not a bad apple, this is pervasive," he said.

PETA asked that criminal charges be filed against one shearer who worked at ranches in Montrose and Moffat counties in Colorado, NBC News reported. Moffat County Sheriff Tom Jantz said his office was taking the accusations seriously.

Lt. Gary Jackson of the Montrose County Sheriff's Office filed a report for that county's district attorney. "I saw nothing in the video that is outside the norm for that industry," he told the network.

PETA also conducted an undercover venture in Australia that allegedly revealed severe mistreatment.

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