Update On Bill and Lou: Lou Euthanized And Bill Gets A Reprieve

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.

From boston.com:

(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!


Care2 Related Coverage

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Photo Credit: sallymac79


June Bostock
June Bostock4 years ago

They should both have gone to shelters.

.4 years ago

very,very sad,thank you for sharing

Mara Comitas
Past Member 4 years ago

So sad .

Kathy Niell
Kathryn Niell4 years ago

Oops! I meant Bill should go to a shelter, not Lou. *blushing*

Kathy Niell
Kathryn Niell4 years ago

I was happy for the follow-up news about Bill and Lou. I hope Lou will go to a shelter where he can live among other cows, who are highly social animals. To let him languish in solitude would be cruel.

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Why is this still being argued about now? The facts are that Lou wouldn't have made it thru a harsh New England winter, and even if he had been given to the sanctuary, it was in the same area, same weather! Lou wouldn't have faired any better there and the vet's decision was what we should respect, not those who are just appalled at the idea of having eaten ox meat under any circumstances. What is the difference between ox meat, bison meat, beef, deer, elk or moose? The oxen were raised to work at a TEACHING agricultural college, and the animals raised there were routinely raised for consumption, as they are at most agricultural schools. I'm sure that animals in other schools are often cared for by students with as much affection as Lou and Bill, but students know that they can't let emotions override what the animals are there for in the first place.

Lisa Marie C.
Lisa C4 years ago

Riiiight, we euthanized Lou because we didn't want to see him suffer any more, but we had no problems planning to kill him and eat him! Somehow I don't believe you people. Send the other poor lonely ox to a sanctuary where he deserves to be!

Marlene Dinkins

sad story, was not reazon to kill him!!!

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

It would have been very tough.

Past Member
Phillip H5 years ago

I feel bad that the two of them Lou And Bill couldn't have been allowed to live out their golden years together!
I am glad however that at least Bill is able to live out his years in the sanctuary where he will be treated with respect and dignity as he should be.
I also hope that the college learns a lesson from this in the care and humane treatment of it's animals, and if not, they will be held accountable.