The Yoke of Death

» October 16th, 2012

Once upon a time the kids went to college to read philosophy and learn some science, to experience Shakespeare and deconstruct poetry, to study politics and explore ethics. Now, at many colleges and universities, they dabble in farming. With animals.

Can you imagine the experience of spending $50K a year so your kid can learn to birth a calf and kill a chicken? This “interdisciplinary” endeavor has become so infected by common academic honk that, according to John Sanbonmatsu, speaking of his alma mater Hampshire College, “they even have a Lacanian psychologist on hand to help the students analyze their experiences with lambs during ‘birthing season.’” I’m no educational expert, but I say when a class has to hire an on-site psychologist to help students process their educational experience something somewhere has gone wrong.

One of the under appreciated downsides of this bizarre blend of animal agriculture and liberal arts is the fact that, much like backyard chicken owners, colleges and universities generally lack long-term plans to care for their animals after they’re finished being exploited so a bunch of rich kids destined to become bankers and lawyers and wooly-headed professors can have a weird ersatz Little House on the Prairie play date.

Needless to say, I’m not talking about land-grant colleges and agriculture schools (these places are horrific in their own special ways). Instead, I’m talking about posh places such as Green Mountain College, a four-year liberal arts college in Poulntey, VT that specializes in environmental sustainability. It is there, on the university’s “teaching farm,” that students have dutifully exploited two oxen whose intrinsic worth they’ve honored with the names Bill and Lou (pictured above). Bill and Lou have been generating electricity and plowing fields for ten years on the bucolic Green Mountain campus, a campus from where students will graduate with a skill set enabling them to conquer the eighteenth century.

Here in the twenty-first, Bill and Lou have had enough of spending their days straining forward in order to generate enough energy to run a toaster. Lou got too tired to haul a plow and Bill won’t obey commands without Lou by his side. These guys have given notice: they’re done working.

VINE Sanctuary, a beautiful place for an animal to live out the rest of his or her life, has stepped up to the plate and offered to care for Bill and Lou. Instead of a decent retirement, however, Green Mountain College has chosen to kill the oxen. That’s right. Officials there have argued that, in the name of sustainability (it would be so costly to keep them alive!), Bill and Lou–a couple of sweet oxen who have been exploited for what must be the most useless reason ever–will have their retirement sendoff at a slaughterhouse. What kind of educational lesson is that? Not a humanistic one, to say the least.

And thus cruelty masquerades as environmental justice–perhaps one of the worst cases of such duplicity I’ve ever seen. If you think this choice is a terrible one for a college campus to make in the name of environmentalism, let Bill Throop, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs know. Karen Davis has, and I will be sending him this post as well, with your comments attached.

Give him an earful.

Update: Here’s an especially effective letter, sent to me by Karen Davis.

Dear President Fonteyn and Provost Throop:

When I first heard of GMC’s plan to slaughter and eat the oxen known as Lou and Bill, despite an offer of free sanctuary, I thought that there must be more to the issue.  What could induce an educational faculty to choose wanton cruelty, I wondered, when the choice should be easy, indeed, as it has been made easy for you by the VINE Sanctuary.

But after reading the background story and speaking to Miriam Jones, Coordinator at VINE, I am astounded to find that really is no more to the story, and there is nothing more behind GMC’s planned slaughter than some contradictory arguments and base rationalization, which is why I urge you and the GMC Board to reconsider this decision and send Bill and Lou to sanctuary.

In a public statement (via Kevin Coburn, Director of Communications), the College argues essentially that local meat is better than factory farming, so you intend not only to kill Bill and Lou, but also to feed them to the GMC community.  Otherwise, the statement continues, these animals would continue to “consume resources at a significant rate” and would also soon be euthanized anyway.  GMC is thus acting as a responsible steward “for all the earth’s resources.”

My goodness.  What I see immediately is that the contradiction of these arguments trumpets some strenuous rationalization.  Which is the case?  Will Bill and Lou continue to eat and drink the planet out from under us, or will they simply be put to death by the VINE Sanctuary?  And if you’re stewarding the resources of the entire earth, then why eat local instead of factory meat, when the latter, whatever drawbacks it entails, is unquestionably produced more efficiently, with less water and energy input per pound of flesh on your table?

If it’s waste that concerns GMC, then consider that your farm manger is also proposing to kill the healthy, though middle-aged, ox Bill, whose only misfortune is to be paired with the injured Lou.  Your statement only points out that finding Bill a new partner would be difficult and uncertain.  Does this mean that Bill’s remaining life will be wasted for convenience?  This sounds to me like a lesson from the throw-away society, not the sustainable society.

Consider further that you propose to kill the one-ton Lou at the end of October merely due an injury of one small area of his body, the left hock, despite the fact that Lou is currently fully ambulatory and not receiving any pain medication.  These latter facts were related to me by Miriam Jones at VINES, after sanctuary staff attended the recent open house at GMC and observed Lou walking and grazing outdoors with no apparent difficulty, and as you may know, animals destined for human consumption cannot be given pain medication within 30 days of slaughter.

According to Miriam, Lou and Bill may do quite well at VINES; the sanctuary currently houses animals who are larger and heavier than both animals combined.  They also have a proven record of rehabilitating animals from egregiously abusive living situations, unlike that of Bill and Lou.  Even in the unlikely event that these oxen prove anti-social at the sanctuary, Miriam informs me that there is ample space for them to be fenced away from others and live on their own.

But as we know, most animals do respond well to compassion and kindness.  The more we study animals the more we come to understand this.  Similarly, this is why I appeal to your humanity and rational nature here, rather than hurling insults.  Inasmuch as the human animal has no biological need to eat meat, there is no need to kill Lou and Bill.  The world does not lack for hamburger; the true scarcity among “all the earth’s resources” is humanity, which is your job at GMC to cultivate.

Sincerely Yours,
Aaron M. Kromash
Greensborough Bend VT

85 Responses to The Yoke of Death

  1. Carolle from Boston says:

    Truly absurd decision of Green Mountain College. VINE has offered to care for them – such an amazing gesture & offer that should be honored. I’m rather stunned that the college said no and very disappointed with them.

  2. CQ says:

    ” . . . a campus from where students will graduate with a skill set enabling them to conquer the eighteenth century.” That’s a priceless line.

    Bill and Lou are priceless, too. Meaning no one can put a price tag on them. They are beautiful living beings without price. They are not, as this antiquated school (and most of society) would have us believe, mere machines hypocritically bestowed with human-like monikers.

    The laws that confer property status on animals have got to go. They are outmoded, and as can be seen in frustrating, sad cases such as this, brutal and barbaric.

    Green Mountain College officials are capable of making a noble, compassionate, just, and truly life-sustaining decision. I pray they will see the light — the light of Love, symbolized by the ten years of electrical light Lou and Bill generated by their faithful plodding.

  3. Dan Hooley says:

    Further proof that talk about “sustainability” is often empty and imports unjustified, speciesist assumptions.

  4. christie says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I wrote my letter to the Provost a few days ago.

    I am so sick at heart looking at their pictures, seeing how they so dutifully obey their slave masters… and what for?

    What makes me even more ill is that the cowards (officials) at this college won’t even have them euthanized in the only home they’ve known, but shipped off to a slaughterhouse. Those poor, poor babies.

  5. Cynthia Freeman says:

    Sustainability has become a buzzword that lets people act out their fantasies of how wonderful life was two centuries ago. There is no going back to that mythical and perceived perfect time. There is only going forward. And to go forward we need a new paradigm – one where our fellow Earthlings are recognized and treated as kin, not as objects to commodify purely for human desires. Jon Wynne-Tyson so eloquently said, “Until we establish a felt sense of kinship between our own species and those fellow mortals who share with us the sun and shadow of life on this agonized planet, there is no hope for other species, there is no hope for the environment, and there is no hope for ourselves.”

    If Green Mountain is that concerned about being sustainable then stop “striving to meet the dietary preferences of all students” who want to eat meat. If you think euthanizing Lou and Bill and eating them is the best use of “resources” then perhaps you should consider collecting euthanized cats and dogs from shelters and serving those up to your meat-eating students too.

    • CQ says:

      Thank you for citing that eloquent statement by Jon Wynne-Tyson, Cynthia.

      Looking it up just now, I discovered it comes from a speech he gave at a Writers Against Experiments on Animals conference in London in 1985. Here are some of the rousing views he shared before and after the lines you quoted: “Of the animal rights issue, some would say it is a minor, irrelevant, even ridiculous concern. ‘Man must come first’ is the cry, as though it was an either/or matter.

      “What they really mean is that man must come first and last and that nothing must be done in the animals’ cause apart from the occasional cover-up job where the evidence of our abuse of other sentient life is too painful for more sensitive humans to tolerate.

      “I believe such diehards to be wrong on every count. Wrong not only to be indifferent to our treatment of animals for their sakes, but wrong because such callousness helps substantially to prolong the worst aspects of the human predicament.

      “Until we establish a felt sense of kinship between our own species and those fellow mortals —those ‘other nations,’ as Henry Beston put it—who share with us the sun and shadow of life on this agonized planet, there is no hope for other species, there is no hope for our environment, and there is no hope for ourselves.

      “The writing is on the wall—large and clear.”


      Question: As a fan of Nathan Winograd’s No Kill model for animal shelters, I wonder if you were thinking of “killed” instead of “euthanized”? The latter word suggests that the shelters have no choice but to put cats and dogs out of misery — which is just not so, as the growing number of successful No Kill shelters attests.

  6. Claudia says:

    What the hell is wrong with Green Mountain College? If a sanctuary has stepped forward to offer retirement for these oxen, why would the college not be grateful for the future of these animals to be resolved in a pleasant way? What? Are they just sadists at that college? This is simply beyond my comprehension…why anyone would deliberately choose to kill these animals rather than to let them retire to a sanctuary. Obviously, someone in charge is totally lacking in humanity. Shame on Green Mountain College.

  7. This is terrible news. Let them go to the animal sanctuary and live out the rest of their lives…

  8. Patricia Rathbone says:

    …and if the “they cost too much to take care of” garbage doesn’t make you sick enough, they have even said that “they would be using up some of the earth’s resources if they let them live now that they can no longer use them to work at the school”…! Are you kidding me?!?! HUMANS!?!? talking about two oxen (working for them for most, if not all, of their lives) using SOME OF THE EARTHS RESOURCES?!?! I can not believe anyone would feel justified in saying that if you can’t get anything else out of a being, it should die. Also, quite a few of your students are very upset about this and the fact that you plan to have Bill’s and Lou’s dead bodies served to the students as lunch only makes it worse. I think I read too, that someone at the college tried to say that moving them to the sanctuary, (that offered to let them retire and live in peace), would be too stressful for them? How do you plan to ship them off to be slaughtered?
    I used to LOVE Vermont. This has ruined the entire state for me. Every time I think of Vermont, I will think of this disgusting display of selfishness.

    • Erica says:

      Well said Patricia. You just wrote everything that I am thinking, but can’t seem to eloquently express. You did! Thank you and ditto.

    • Bea Elliott says:

      I agree with everything you’ve said Patricia! And as far as I’m concerned this strike two against Vermont. Some may recall a few years ago a bob-veal processing plant was found dismembering fully conscious day-old calves.

      I guess that might explain how the college has no qualms about about killing and consuming oxen that have done no wrong except to be loyal to each other through their inevitable aging process.

      So it seems like in Vermont – Whether you’re old or very young – You’re destined to be a brutalized victim.

      • Natalie says:

        I am 110% on board with your sentiment…but please be aware that some of us in VT are fighting this with all our might. VT isn’t ALL bad……only one college administration, and a subset of their students and alumni. I’m embarrassed as many other are…

  9. Rebecca Stucki says:

    If the college carries through with the very ill-advised plan to have the oxen killed, I’m afraid there is no amount of spin or “greenwashing” that will clean its forever tarnished reputation.

  10. John T. Maher says:

    GMC is falling into the classic anthropocentric trap of failing to consider the animal interest. Should all the students eutahnize themselves at age 60 to promote sustainability? The determination that it is unsustainable to allow 2 oxen to live out their retirement years is based upon flawed initial assumptions which fail to account for the nutrient effect of ox shit on topsoil as well as the effect of soil churning caused by the cleft hooves — both of which have a positive value for the oxen’s ecosystem. Then there is the value regime of sustainability which artificially limits an ox’s life. These people are teaching a flawed version of capitalism to their students and should take a sabbatical and enroll in some Science & Technology Studies (STS) courses at Harvard or MIT or Columbia or U Arizona or UC Santa Cruz as these academics do not understand the meaning of terms such as “sustainability”. Shocking when bad scholarship becomes the institutional norm.

  11. Pamphylla says:

    Perhaps this is a prerequisite for drone training, that the students may “feel the pain,” as they stab or click, all in good conscience.

  12. Bonnie says:

    I wonder why kids are going broke to go to universities that teach fake science and fake capitalism. Better to just quit school and make a living. Worked well for Bill Gates and a few others I could mention.

  13. Karen Davis says:

    It truly exemplifies human arrogance and willful blindness to blame the animals whom we bring into the world through artificial breeding and other obscene manipulations, merely to “serve” us, for disrupting “sustainability.” If we honestly cared about environmental sustainability, we would change our consumptive behavior and reduce our population by half.

    Imagine arguing that Bill and Lou must DIE because of the predicament WE have created for THEM.

    The only redemption in this situation is having the grace to allow these two companion animals to live in peace together with the compassionate and skilled caregivers at VINE Sanctuary.

    Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns.

    • CQ says:

      Beautifully put, as always, Karen.

      And even worse: “Imagine arguing that WE MUST KILL Bill and Lou because of the predicament WE have created for THEM.” !!!

  14. Thank you, James, for shedding light on GMC’s shameful treatment of these two beings. I don’t know what is worse: the college’s callous disregard for the welfare of innocent animals, or the fact that only a public outcry like this can possibly save them.

  15. Zinka Benton says:

    I sent Provost Throop a personal email imploring him not to send these two very able adjunct professors to the slaughterhouse.

  16. Mary Finelli says:

    Green Mountain College is teaching insensitivity and irresponsibility. There is no valid excuse or justification for it. Shame on Green Mountain College!!

    VINE is to be commended -and supported- for their compassionate offer to give Bill and Lou a wonderful home for the rest of their natural lives. GMC should be extremely grateful instead of resistant.

    DO THE RIGHT THING, GMC: send Bill and Lou to VINE.

  17. I’ve got a book coming out on working animals, and I’ve spent a lot of time with horse, mule, and ox teamsters. Some teamsters send their animals “to the rail,” as the phrase goes. Some don’t. One of the best I ever met kept his old (and enormous) team around as a point of pride. Any ox that can stand can snig a small log or pull a sled, and thus continue its useful life and confer respect on their owner. They were a fine pair and their continued existence demonstrated the man’s skills as a teamster. The only reason to kill working cattle is if they’re so lame they can’t stand up any more—or if they’re yours and you intend to eat them.
    If the college’s intention is to breed, raise, and use animals for consumption, then they should just get on with it. It’s impractical to believe these people are going to turn into vegetarians. However, if the sanctuary would have taken the cattle, it would have made sense to care for and comfort these animals, who after all have given their lives to work.

  18. Lisa Desbois says:

    This was a very sad, disturbing article to read. I had kept hoping in the back of my mind that the cruel people at Green Mountain College may have had a change of heart, and allow these animals a peaceful and happy end to their life. Well- that was not the case. I feel angry and helpless by the poor, insensitive decision that was made here. I shed a tear for these poor animals.

  19. Kimberly Roemer says:

    My God. How arrogant of the college to put itself in the role of judge and jury. I am just astounded that the college risks it’s reputation and future donations. I mean, that’s not what I care about, but at the end of the day, colleges run on money. Who would continue to donate to a school which takes such a public stand outing animals as only machines? Not very bright from a business standpoint. It would be so easy to just choose compassion. I can only hope that in the end, the college will do the right thing and allow Bill and Lou to live out their lives in peace. At the end of the day, I’m sure the president of the university would not send his father, mother, or dog off to slaughter due to illness. Why can’t that same compassion be shown to two beings who have worked for the college so loyally?

  20. Alecia Bohan says:

    I hope that the decision makers at Green Mountain College will show compassion and allow Bill and Lou to go to the sanctuary. It is the only right and just thing to do.

  21. SherryM says:

    From an ethical standpoint, these beautiful animals deserve to live out what is left of their precious life in freedom. From a purely monetary point of view, if VINE sanctuary will take them for no cost, how could doing anything else make any sense?

    Our institutions of higher education should model ethics and the best aspects of humanity. Sending these animals to slaughter is cruel, inhumane and completely illogical.

    • Ernest says:

      I’m sorry – what accepted mode of ethics are you proclaiming? Do you know there are DOZENS?

      • Melody says:

        Ernest: compassion, humane, the right thing to do, that is the issue at hand. No cost to GMC, the world watching, irreparable harm on GMC’s “reputation”, monies not going to the college – if you need definitions, let me know.

  22. Kelly Findlay says:

    It would be in the best interests of Green Mountain College to send Bill and Lou to the Farm sanctuary. I hope the negative publicity they will receive due to this will sway them in the right direction. It’s ridiculous that they would not choose to do so willingly, given the fact that the Farm sanctuary is offering to take on Bill and Lou free of cost.

  23. MaryAnn says:

    Do any of you know what has ACTUALLY taken place on the GMC campus? Do you even know where Poultney VT is….or are you all from other countries…like the petition signers?

    I am a graduate student in Sustainable Food Systems at GMC. Part of the curriculum is farming, sustainable farming. Where do you think meat comes from? It comes from animals, and most, unlike Bill and Lou, do not have lives where they eat pastured grass, work ( which by the way is what oxen were bred and evolved to do) and enjoy a pleasant life. Most of your meat comes from CAFO’s. Where the animals live horrible tortured and very short lives, until they are taken to slaughter houses where they are poked and prodded until death. The meat you buy at the grocery store is the one you should be petitioning against. Not the well thought out, sustainable and humane end of Bill and Lou’s lives.

    Please educate yourselves

    • James says:

      Mary Ann,
      Thank you for your comment. I think I speak for many of my readers when I say that “humane” means not killing animals for food we do not need. Are you prepared to argue for a definition of humane that suggests killing the oxen is more humane than not killing them? If so, please, educate us.

    • Bea Elliott says:

      Hi MaryAnn – My meat comes from grains, beans, nuts and seeds – It sustains me just fine. I do know where others get their nourishment from though… Their meat comes from the flesh of dead animals. And regardless of whether that life existed on a factory “meatrix” farm or an idyllic happy pasture – In the end that animal did not want to forfeit his or her life… It was taken from them by force. It’s a theft I can’t permit myself to be silent about. Hence, the protest of the unnecessary killing of Bill and Lou.

      If you read the comments throughout this blog you’ll see that none of us gets our “meat” from any CAFO or any animal-oriented “food system”… And we all are quite happy in that choice. There’s also a film about private “sustainable” farmers who have made kinder choices as well. It’s called Peaceable Kingdom – The Journey Home
      I highly recommend it as a follow up on the meatrix:

    • Ellen K says:

      Dear MaryAnn,
      Actually, yes, I do: I was raised in the ’60s on a small ranch (with hens), sandwiched between a dairy farm and an orange grove (now all tract housing) in S. CA. I now live next to a field of Highland cows in MA, and am a frequent visitor to VT, and a good friend runs “Second Chance Farm” in the Northeast Kingdom. I have even been to Poultney, and seen the GMC campus. I am thoroughly educated, thank you (as is everyone else writing on this blog)

      And, yes, I’m completely in agreement that we all should be protesting CAFOs and factory-farms. I know that everyone writing comments and letters spends time and energy daily working towards their end.

      I ask, though, that you further your own critical thinking and education, with two things. The first is a speech transcript on James’s blog about the “Hidden Pitfalls of Small-Scale Animal Agriculture” ( ) He argues that small, “sustainable” “humane” farms legitimize and perpetuate factory-farming. Read it please, and at least know the argument before you reject it, or us. We’re on the same team!

      Second, see the film “Peaceable Kingdom” by Tribe of Heart, which is about farmers who realized what they were really doing, and made dramatic changes. Essential for a broad education!

    • Hi MaryAnn:
      I gave myself an education on where meat comes from more than a year ago. I interviewed farmers on their slaughter methods and I watched several dozen slaughter videos, including one I watched with Dr. Temple Grandin, of a facility she designed in Canada (it was a hidden video). Grandin’s plant was supposed to “humanely” slaughter horses. But it didn’t. The horses were shot multiple times in the heads (even though the legal definition of a humane stun is one rendering the animal insensible to pain so it can be bled out and butchered). Dr. Grandin was unmoved by the sight of horses being shot four, five and as many as eleven times in the head, even those this, by definition, showed the failure of her system. I don’t know how cattle fare in her other plants, but I do know this: there’s a reason why slaughter plants don’t allow video monitoring (one of the aspects of Dr. Grandin’s work that is never executed in the plants she designs). They don’t want the public to know what goes on there and for good reason.

      You do American consumers an immense disservice if you treat those who object to Bill and Lou’s deaths at a slaughterhouse as though they don’t know where meat comes from. As this segment of the population grows, the meat industry will be forced to change. As a student, you may want to go out and meet people who don’t make a living slaughtering animals, but know how its done. Your vision of sustainability could use some broadening. It’s not all about meat production and meat eating.

      Your closing statement about the “Well thought out and humane end of Bill and Lou’s lives”sounds like something you took in a marketing class. I suspect that few readers here are going to buy that, as much as you wish they would.

    • Dianne Warren says:

      I’m a petition signer and I’ve lived in Vermont for almost thirty years.

    • Melody says:

      MaryAnn, yes, I DO know what takes place on your campus – Murdering two oxen that have toiled in your fields for 11 years! This is your GMC Legacy, MaryAnn!

      When you have mastered some life experience and look back on this, you will regret it.

      This issue was brought to us by someone there – someone who knew what your plot was. I did not hear of your college prior, and my impression hinges on this one incident, as is everyone else’s ~

    • Natalie says:

      Maryann…please educate yourself, outside of the close minded brainwashing you received from GMC. It’s a big world out there! Have you ever witnessed an animal being slaughtered at a slaughter house? Oxen have NOT evolved to work for you any more than a horse, a donkey or any other large animal. Domestication of large animals doesn’t translate into some warped opinion that they’ve evolved to “enjoy” serving human needs. They have the same physiological requirements that any herd animal has had through time and pulling your plow isn’t one of them. hese creatures are conditioned/trained by humans to unnaturally but willingly do our will, regardless of the damage it will cause to themselves. No animal of prey would choose to compromise their health since they’re wired by nature for self preservation. Bill and Lou have done your will…now give them back their lives.

      • Lisa Jacobson says:

        I agree with all you said, Natalie. These animals “worked” for their entire lives, and this is how GMC shows their gratitude? What does this teach their students about true appreciation for life and those who serve. If GMC wishes to raise beef cattle, then so be it, but Bill and Lou were not raised as beef cattle……..they dutifully worked as part of a team. How could their teammates just stand by and allow this to happen? GMC apparently doesn’t believe in the ethical treatment of animals, because if they did, then they would relinquish these two beautiful creatures of God to VINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GMC, if you are reading this then I say that Bill and Lou took care of you now it is your turn to take care of them….”Allow them their LIVES”!!!
        Love and Prayers to Bill and Lou.

  24. Ernest says:

    I appreciate your view on the ethical treatment of animals. I do not, however, support such a view. The biggest problem is that many of the people who oppose the slaughter do so on one set of beliefs, with very little willingness to consider other arguments.

    We have had the debate on campus, we continue to have the debate. I urge you to understand the wide variables that ethics can stand on, and not be blinded by one simple idea, save the oxen. That is not the way to live in a world of reason, compassion, empathy, and virtue. As a student at GmC, I pride our liberal arts college on the great job it does of preparing my students not to think a certain way, but to think – to rationally decide what is their framing of issues.

    In the end, I really hope my college does not reconsider it’s decision. We have based our ethics on a triple bottom line – this is what matters.

    Thanks for your statements, they have piqued my thoughts yet again.

    • Micky says:

      Apparently what does not matter to you at GMC then, is compassion, kindness, consideration, respect and honor. How sustainable is our world without those qualities?

      What you don’t realize is that your students are thinking in a ‘certain way’, and are being blinded by one simple idea, and that is called ‘carnism. It so rules our culture that most find it invisible. It is reflected in not only our eating habits, but in our wars, slavery, and the idea that ‘might makes right’.

      Animal agriculture is not sustainable or healthy or compassionate. That’s my triple bottom line.

      Doing the right thing is sustainable, and the right thing would be to NOT eat your co workers…with fries, or otherwise.

  25. Rebecca Stucki says:

    MaryAnn, do you actually know the audience you are addressing? Most, if not all, of us are ethical vegans who do not consume or use any part of any animal. Simply because one animal has been “granted” (by humans) a longer life than another does not make his death (at the hands of humans) any less egregious than that of a factory-farmed youngster.

    And, by the way, all animals exist and have evolved for their own reasons – not to provide humans with food, work or an excuse for a college degree.

    • Ernest says:

      Yes – but if we have influenced their evolution? I don’t know much about the evolution of oxen from an academic standpoint, but if we have had a part in their domestication, should we just bow out now?

      Again – you have a view of ethics, others have a view of ethics that differs from your own – how do you bring these together to form a group consensus? That is exactly what those who spoke for and against the sanctuary did – they sat down and discussed such an issue, and even those who came in favor of the sanctuary have since stated their support of the option to process Bill and Lou.

      • Rebecca Stucki says:

        Ernest, simply having had a hand (or any other body part) involved in the evolution of a species or creation of a life does not confer ownership or autonomy over that being’s life – otherwise, your parents would be free to “process” you whenever they chose!

      • Logic says:

        ”Yes – but if we have influenced their evolution?”

        Then we better start eating dogs and cats. And if sustainability is your worry, let me have you know that 11.000 of dogs and cats are killed every single day in the US for simply being homeless anyway so why won’t we munch on their flesh that will rot away anyway?

        Just because you have influened their evolution WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT by the way, does not mean you own them. What kind of ridiculous logic and argument is that?

      • Natalie says:

        We have not influenced their evolution by domestication. They “cope” with domestication just as a horse who belongs in the Great Basin in order to thrive must cope with living in the Green Mountains. It is because they have not evolved that we need to ensure that their physiological needs are met in order to be healthy. i.e. horses who are stalled suffer from anxiety of confinement, horses who eat domestic diets full of carbs will become obese, metabolic and potentially founder, horses kept in lush, wet springfed fields have soft, poor feet that often times require protection rather than being barefoot. It’s no different for oxen, donkeys, goats, etc.

  26. They have to stop insulting our intelligence says:

    It’s funny how they make the whole argument about sustainability now when it is a known fact that eating animal products actually destroys the planet, which is why the UN is urging everyone to adopt a plant-based diet. If they actually cared about the environment, they would promote plant-based diet. The arrogance they display by talking about sustainability as if they own the entire planet and have some kind of authority over who gets to live on Earth and who gets to die is sickening. No other species on this planet destroys the environment like us. If they are so worried about the sustainability of the planet, why don’t they walk the walk by killing themselves?

    Their only motive here is the flesh they will get out of Bill and Lou’s old, worn out bodies but by using double talk and making the issue about the environment now, they think they are going to fool people though sadly, many do get fooled.

  27. Melody says:

    Thank you so much for your letter ~ what an eloquent expression of what we are all feeling as the world watches on.

    Let’s all contact GMC through their facebook page and their alumni, and also, if you are in Vermont, go to the college.

    When I first read of this debacle, I had to shake my head to look again. What type of so called educational institution teaches its students to slaughter the animals that have toiled for them for 10 years? If you read the posts on their facebook page, some students are expousing ideas and thoughts that are alarming! They are almost uplifted by their being able to slaughter Bill and Lou. One student speaks of how much they enjoyed spending time with them, then joins the “let’s kill them” mentality.

    If I were a parent even considering this college, I would cross them off my list and give them a piece of my mind!

    If I were an alumni, I would stop any monies from going to GMC and for current students? Good luck out in the civilized world with this college on your resume!!

    This is GMC’s Legacy ~ killing two beautiful oxen that served them OR if they are smart they will make the end of the story about compassion and allow Vine to take them.

  28. Catherine Perry says:

    If Bill and Lou were human, as their names imply, they would not belong to anyone and, at their age, they would be free to decide their future. I wonder what they would say…

  29. Zia says:

    to throopw, bcc:
    As a retired educator, it saddens me that the slaughter of these sweet animals is even being considered by the leaders of an academic institution such as yours. Please add me to the growing list of compassionate people who beseech you to spare their lives.

    If you need assistance in their relocation, I will contribute.

  30. glenno says:

    as a staunch supporter of the gmc …I stand back in dismay wondering why the eloquent old professors of cultivation are being thought of as hamburger…
    I am considering pulling my support of your local mountains and state. as a visitor who owns and skis here every year
    my realtor is put on notice that i will sell and never return to Vermont…i am a small pawn who has spent many dollars supporting local business in both the summer and the winter over the many years……. jobs are created and kept to appease tourists such as myself… and i am not alone…my Canadian Ski compatriots feel the same way…
    but i do declare our unwavering love of your mountains and businesses will be diminished and disappear if we sniff an oxen burger being cooked at your college….

  31. Melody says:

    I suggest we obtain the home addresses and phone numbers of the Trustees of GMC and contact them. This prehistoric and inane rhetoric from the “let’s kill Bill and Lou” contingent is tiring. Doesn’t GMC administration realize it IS about reputation and money? Legacy anyone? or don’t they care because the students that are making the decision and the administration will be gone? Aren’t they receiving state, local and federal monies and tax exempt status?

    I hope all these remarks are being forwarded to GMC, what about Vermont’s senator?


    Thousands of people signed and continue to sign these links to have Bill & Lou sent off to Vine Sanctuary. Th 5th link, which is a petition link on facebook, has over 32.000 signatures!







    Thousands of people signed and continue to sign petitions to have Bill & Lou sent off to Vine Sanctuary. There are at least 5 petitions, and one of them is on facebook, which has over 32.000 signatures! The other one is on and has almost 5000 signatures and keeps getting more signatures by the hour.

    I would post all the petition links on here but it won’t let me. I guess the system assumes they are spam links.

  34. Melody says:

    Please post your letters and comments at both the Green Mountain College facebook page and the Green Mountain College Alumni Community facebook page.

    You will be astonished by the comments made by the students that are determined to kill Bill and Lou. Such a nearsighted view which will forever tarnish GMC’s reputation. They are saying they are now taking a stubborn stance since they have received all the backlash and will now definitely kill them!

    Where are their parents? Is this what should be taught in colleges?

    People are offering to pick them up for private sanctuary as well; people are offering to buy them; there are offers of donations for scholarships.

    There is a new oxen team in place to replace Bill and Lou so they can be killed. A Youtube video indicates they received a $110,000 grant for Bill and Lou.

    Thank you Glenno for the link to the governor’s page to send a letter.

    There is a link for Bill and Lou on the Governor’s facebook page – please everyone, go to these other outlets to let your voices be heard!

  35. Dr. R. M. Mésavage says:

    Animals are not here for us, to work for us, to feed us, to entertain us nor for us to wear. They are here for themselves, to be happy. As long as we confuse animals with commodities, we are no better than savages. Using and abusing animals is the same as the slavery that was constantly rationalized in the past.

  36. Dr. R. M. Mésavage says:

    Animals are not for us to use, to wear, to eat or to amuse us. They are for for themselves, like us. As long as we think otherwise, we will be no better than savages.

  37. glenno says:

    so if they received a grant…legally the team belongs to the taxpayers of vermont if it was a state grant….or they belong to americans……if they were a federal grant… they not??????
    not to the college…they then became a rental….. yes or no????

  38. glenno says:

    Governor Peter Schumlin

    If the state of Vermont gave Green Mountain College the grant for their oxen which they claim to have the right to slaughter……. are the oxen then not property of the Vermont tax payers????
    The college is firm in their stance that they will be slaughtered even though the college has been informed of a hospice for the oxen????
    A grant does not ensure ownership does it??/
    And you sir should be ashamed of the students responses on facebook to the request to send the oxen to a safe environment..
    It is disgraceful what the students of Green Mountain College have shown the world when it comes to compassion and common sense sir.

    food for thought…not for the bbq…

    Glenn Senft
    Osoyoos/Vancouver BC

  39. christie says:

    Glenno, thank you! I didn’t see exactly how to contact the senator on that link, but I did just email the tourism board.

  40. christie says:

    Ok, thanks! I just called and left a message for the senator.

    I’m scared, so scared for these two oxen.

  41. Melody says:

    Glenno, you are wonderful; we are posting on Shumlin’s page…. we also have a Facebook “Save Bill and Lou” group in case you are interested. This bugs us ALOT – if you read the posts of the GMC students on their facebook page it is disturbing – gleeful with the decision of serving “fries with the burgers” they hope to have of Bill and Lou’s flesh. Appreciate your ideas so very much and Christie, join us also… So grateful for your passionate ideas.

  42. JimBob says:

    All of you who are thinking of contacting Vermont’s governor and legislators, you are wasting your time. I can assure you that these individuals support small farming practices like the one Green Mountain College is carrying out here. If I’m not mistaken, Gov. Shumlin was the commencement speaker at GMC last year. I can assure you that he’s well aware and supportive of their efforts.

  43. JimBob says:

    Also Glenno – I’m sure the grants were to support the college’s efforts at sustainable farming, which the oxen were a part of and are now to reach their logical conclusion as members of a sustainable farm that seeks a closed loop system. And I’m sure most taxpayers of VT would rather they be under the care of GMC and not VINE since it is a largely agrarian state – we actually have more cows here than people.

  44. glenno says:

    well…i have been hammering (stalking) all the derogative comments from the students and have reposted them in their employers pages and their parents pages and their grandparents pages….ooopppss….then i made a copulation of those derogative comments and sent them with a very unappreciative letter to the governor and senator letting them know how uncompassionate and rude and insensitive and immoral his next generation and stewards of his state of vermont are…. i sicked PETA on all of the students thru their facebook addresses and business contacts… when mary landis first sent me the bill and lou story i scoffed and b4 i had read the post i made the same derogotive bbq comments and such….so…from that to where i am now…including petitioning the governor for a proclamation…just takes a great story full of heart for us CANADIANS to get going….beware GMC posters hahahahahah

  45. glenno says:

    a full list of all schools in vermont…start an email campaign…lets get the students young and younger to stand behind this cause…lets show GMC THAT THEY CANT BULLY BILL AND LOU TO DEATH…ELEMENTARY STUDENTS AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE PROBABLY NOT AWARE OF THE CAMPAIGN….lets work on getting them aboard….stop bullying the oxen to death GMC!!!! EMAIL..EMAIL…EMAIL…

  46. Lisa Pelletier says:

    I have this to say in regards to Lou and Bill. First of all we are NOT living in the 1800′s. We are not forced to eat the cattle as they loose their usefulness on the farm because we may otherwise starve during the cold winter months. My question to the leaders of Green Mountain College is this. When your beloved family dog gets old will you take him out in your back yard cut his throat, skin him hang him in the barn like a deer and then cut him up an put his meat in neat packages, and put him in the freezer? To me this is like eating the family dog.. It is disgusting. If you want to raise your own beef to slaughter then do so. But do not use the adage that this is sustainable farming. You just want a cheap way to make your grocery bill a little lighter for a month or so. REALLY? In the year 2012 you cannot see where this is morally and socially unacceptable.
    Further more you are killing faculty members, if you really want to get down to brass tacks about this. These animals have taught countless people the values of working with farm animals, and also in many cases true life lessons. So when your other faculty members are ready for retirement or you have no use for them, are you going to take them into a dark alley and put a bullet in them? (maybe eat them too?) I am just curious because you see. You are planning on feeding your students faculty.
    I grew up in a farming family we always raised our own beef. But we did not make pets of them. (These animals are pets). We knew that the beef cattle were going to be sent to slaughter and that they were going to be steak dinner. (They were also not elderly animals). But for an institution of your reputation to do this is really a lack luster mark for you. It is shameful what society has become as of recent years. A compassionless organism. I would think that you would want the young people who walk through your doors to know the value of life. NOT only human but animal alike. These animals have given their life to you as faculty members I think the least you could do for them is to give them a happy retirement and not have that be on someones dinner plate.

    • Melody says:

      Lisa, please post your letter on the Green Mountain College facebook page and Green Mountain College Alumni Community Page – when you see their college page, look at the comments, especially of a “Shellbee Rose” ~ if she were my daughter… The students there are heartless, callous, disrespectful and so removed from any type of emotion. Makes one wonder what is going on at that college…

      If these are the examples of the young people that are walking through their doors we should all be scared.

  47. glenno says:

    and here is the list of all vermonty newspapers…old school works too…this could become a school topic in elementary schools…email email email…

  48. Melody says:

    Here is a link to GMC’s farm; I hope this link comes through – it shows a dead sheep, scroll down the page to “other posts” and see how they treat animals at their farm.

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