A national animal rights organization is calling on the Cleveland County Agriculture and Livestock Exchange to ban the sale of exotic animals at its facility.
On Monday, PETA released a nearly two-minute-long video it says was shot of the Shelby Alternative Animal Auction, held at the Cleveland County Agriculture and Livestock Exchange in Shelby.
The video shows clips from an exotic animal auction hosted at the exchange in October 2021.
(WARNING: The video below contains images viewers may find disturbing.)
Clips from the video show people at the auction kicking and dragging animals as well as handling some exotic species by the tail. One clip shows a zonkey with its leg stuck in a pen door and limping away after being freed. Another shows someone kicking a goat, then hitting it with a stick.
“This is just sort of an insight into what was happening at this facility. (The animals) are being sold like they are objects being peddled to the highest bidder,” said Debbie Metzler, associate director of captive animal law enforcement at PETA.
Metzler said PETA does multiple investigations into animal auctions around the country each year. Unfortunately, she said, what they found at the Cleveland County auction isn’t an anomaly.
“It is happening everywhere where animals are being denied veterinary care, they are kept in really crowded conditions. It is a couple of days for the folks walking through and buying animals, but (the animals) are living in terror,” she said. “They are frightened and especially when they are crowded together it compromises their immune system. It is easy for them to get sick in those conditions, and they don’t know when it is going to stop. For them it is a constant terror.”
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Some of the animals sold at exotic animal auctions are sometimes taken for slaughter, PETA says. Others are taken to shoddy roadside zoos. Some especially rare or endangered species of animals, like an oryx seen escaping from its pen in the video, are used in canned hunts and turned into trophies.
PETA has submitted complaints to the United States Department of Agriculture as well as Cleveland County Animal Services.
Assistant Cleveland County Manager Kerri Melton said the county received the complaint the same day PETA posted the photos and video it captured at the auction. County management is working with state officials to determine what can be done to respond to the complaint.
"Obviously we want to ensure the welfare of all of the animals in our community," said Melton. "We have had multiple calls with the state this week, and we are trying to work with the state to determine what the next steps are."
Metzler said PETA also shared its concerns with the livestock exchange and requested the venue commit to banning exotic sales and cancel a similar auction scheduled for March.
When contacted by phone, employees at the livestock exchange would not speak on the record about the complaint or the materials posted by PETA. A woman who identified herself as an office manager said on Thursday the livestock exchange is aware of the complaint and has contacted an attorney.
Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or Dustin.George@ShelbyStar.com.
This article originally appeared on The Shelby Star: PETA lodges complaint against Cleveland County Livestock Exchange