When Green Mountain College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont, decided to slaughter a beloved pair of oxen to serve in the school’s dining hall, the angry response was heard around the world.
At age eleven, Bill and Lou were too old to continue pulling the yoke; when Lou sustained a recurring injury to his right rear hock earlier this year and could no longer work, the decision was made to retire both animals. They were then scheduled to be killed and eventually served up for dinner at the campus.
Is that a good way to treat employees who have worked hard for 11 years? Thousands of people yelled “No!”
The decision to slaughter the two animals triggered a storm of protest that included e-mails to faculty and administrators and online alerts and petitions pleading for the animals to be sent to a sanctuary.
Over 50,000 Care2 members signed our petition, sponsored by Green Mountain Animal Defenders, asking Green Mountain College to spare the oxen from slaughter.
Thanks to the outpouring of passion from animal lovers, including Care2 activists, the college changed its mind.
From boston.com on November 9:
A small liberal arts college in Vermont whose decision to slaughter a beloved pair of oxen sparked worldwide outrage euthanized one of the animals early this morning, according to college officials.
The euthanasia of one of the oxen, Lou, who was suffering from an injury, was performed by a large-animal veterinarian before dawn today, according to Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of the farm and food project at Green Mountain College, near the border with New York State in Poultney.
“It was hard for him to get around,” Ackerman-Leist said, adding that with winter approaching things would only get worse. “We wouldn’t want to see him suffer anymore.”
Ackerman-Leist said Lou was buried at an undisclosed location off campus.
The other ox, Bill, has received a reprieve and will not be slaughtered. Instead, he will continue to stay on the farm and receive appropriate care, according to the college.
Most animal advocates were happy with this decision for both of these animals, although some still had reservations.
(Joslin) Murphy, an animal advocate and a member of the board of directors of The Greyhound Project, said, “I hope Lou’s injury was such that euthanasia was a sound decision. I’m very pleased to hear that the college has made this decision. I’m very grateful to the college for doing what they have done.”
However, she worried about Bill.
“I suspect that the surviving ox will suffer deeply from the loss of his partner,” she said. “Wouldn’t he be much better off in sanctuary, where he can form new bonds with more permanent residents?”
Hearing of Bill and Lou brought to mind instantly an image from the 1956 movie “Giant,” and the moment when the Texas ranch family sits down to Thanksgiving dinner and are served up their pet turkey Pedro. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll recall that the children run screaming from the table, terribly upset and refusing to eat.
How could this Vermont college countenance serving Bill and Lou, long considered part of the Green Mountain family, as part of the campus meal plan?
This story should make us start considering what we think about our relationship with animals. Whether vegan, vegetarian or carnivorous, we need to know where we stand on this issue.
Thank you again to all those who signed the Care2 petition!
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Photo Credit: sallymac79