Folks, if you’ve not been following the saga of Bill and Lou, please head over to the VINE Sanctuary blog to catch up and learn what you can do. In brief, these two oxen have labored for Green Mountain College for ten years, yoked to plow fields or generate electricity.
Lou developed a recurring injury—recurring because the college kept trying to work him as soon as it showed improvement–and can no longer handle that heavy labor. Bill won’t work with anybody else. So, the college decided that the most humane and environmentally sound way to treat these two animals–beloved school mascots who the school called members of the farm team–would be to slaughter them and use their grisly meat in hamburgers at the school cafeteria.
Some people on campus were upset by this decision and, having been steamrolled by peer pressure on campus, turned to a local animal rights group, Green Mountain Animal Defenders, who contacted VINE Sanctuary—which immediately called the college to offer the oxen a permanent retirement home free of charge. Since the decision had previously been between (1) killing them, (2) paying for their care, or (3) selling them off to an uncertain fate, this should have led to a reconsideration of the decision.
Instead the college refused the offer and commenced to stonewall, offering an ever-changing and often contradictory set of reasons why the animals must be killed in order to abide by the campus commitments to sustainability and animal welfare. No, you didn’t read that wrong. Sometimes, they say that killing Bill—who has no injuries—at a slaughterhouse rather than via euthanasia—would be best for him… because the transition to a sanctuary would be just too emotionally difficult. More often, they say that these animals must not be allowed to consume any more resources now that they cannot labor on behalf of humans.
Again, you can read all about it on the VINE Sanctuary blog. At this point, we’ve appealed to the college Board of Trustees, but we still need people to take action, so please do express yourself to the college—especially if you are an environmental activist or a scholar in any field. Tell the Provost and the President how such specious arguments (and such a callously cruel action) undermine the college’s academic credibility, especially in the areas of environmental ethics and animal studies—both of which they pride themselves on.
And—please—sanctuary cofounder Miriam Jones and I met in the context of disability rights activism, so this is particularly important to us: Please explicitly tell the college that killing the elderly and disabled is not an ethical way to decrease resource usage by a population. If they are truly concerned by the environmental impact of farmed animals, they should quit breeding and buying animals and join us in the quest to develop a truly sustainable agriculture that can feed the world without wrecking the planet.