Editorial, Opinion

EDIT: Slaughter the school ox?

Lou, a beloved ox at Green Mountain College in Vermont, was quietly euthanized Sunday, according to The Boston Globe. The euthanasia took place amid outrage that Lou and another ox would be slaughtered and served in the campus dining hall.

In early October, the college announced its plan to serve the ox’s’ meat “in keeping with its emphasis on sustainable agriculture,” according to the Globe.

Lou was euthanized Sunday because he suffered from an injury, not because his meat was going to be served.

The college’s decision to euthanize the sickly ox seems appropriate. Veterinarians  determined that Lou’s condition “would not improve and that his quality of life would continue to diminish,” according to the Globe. If that is case, then euthanasia seems like the humane choice.

However, the college should never have proposed to serve the ox’s meat in the dining hall in the first place. It’s noble that the college wanted to promote sustainable food practices, but serving a beloved ox’s meat seems inappropriate. Lou lived on the farm for about a decade and had become a symbol of the college’s farm program during that time. Because the school had formed a sort of emotional attachment to the ox, serving its meat to students seems insensitive.

No matter how resourceful or practical their intentions were, the college should have taken Lou’s status into account. It will be interesting to see what the school chooses to do with Lou’s work partner, Bill. Following Lou’s death, the college announced that Bill will remain on the farm, where he will “receive care consistent with appropriate livestock practice”, according to an article in The New York Times on Monday. However, that statement seems open-ended. Hopefully in its future dealings with Bill, the college weighs the ox’s status more closely.

One Comment

  1. Yes, serving a beloved oxen’s meat must be insensitive, it is nice to see a favorable article about Lou and Bill, esp in the face of Philip Ackerman-Leist’s plea for Common Cause which has been sent out to Ag industry folks to gain support to kill whatever animals they please on their farm (note my disappointment). Citing protestors and harrassment, and threats, and naming one sanctuary in particular, who I personally have not met yet, the Common Cause Request is also Protest, only going in the opposite direction to go against those who protested. Now, not all of us “protestors” or “abolitionist revolutionaries” (as another professor calls protestors of Lou’s and Bill’s deaths), ever did anything but sign a couple of petitions. That is peaceful, harmless, and in my mind, right. Especially considering the true status of Lou and Bill. Aside from what function they served. Aside from the view that they “outlived their usefulness” and so serve them up for lunch…
    In regarding the language definitions of these wonderful creatures, we know that the college labels the remaining Ox, Bill, as “Livestock.” We know that GMC considered Lou “Livestock, as well,
    As an animal welfare organization in NH pointed out, Bill and Lou can be considered “Companion Animals”, and it must be against the law to kill them, if they are Companion Animals. I believe that WCAX TV said that the college is now letting Bill live as a “pet.”
    Aside from all that Bill and Lou did for GMC, happily and with wonderful trust, love, personality, and gentleness, what right has GMC truly had, if Bill is now a “pet”, and if Lou and Bill really also are/were “Companion Animals”, “de facto Mascots”, as well as “Livestock”, as well as “Draft Animals”, who “attended even graduation ceremonies, and graced their website with photos…..what right truly, aside from the Sustainability ideals, has GMC had to take Lou’s life and most likely will take Bill’s?
    As we know, Lou was put down. But, was Lou put down truly because his hock took a turn for the worse which made it necessary on Sunday November 11th? Or was it because winter was coming, they were afraid he would slip on ice, etc. and a hole could not be dug in frozen ground if they waited?
    Because Lou was thought of as a meat animal by the college, Lou was not given all of the medical care that he could have had. I don’t know how they can feel right about not having allowed Lou to go to a sanctuary where top veterinary was being offered, why GMC would not let poor Lou have other treatments administered to his hock. I am not affiliated with any sanctuaries, it just amazes me that GMC did not take that offer — in the sense of what is truly best for the animal, how that offer could have been denied, not even considered….. where was Compassion?? Where was the realization of what was best for Lou? How did Bill even get considered to be killed as well, when he is healthy and in the middle of his life? Not the end of his life, but the middle.
    I am very concerned about the facts….if GMC is practicing “utter transparency”, it was said that GMC came out with their decision to slaughter Bill and Lou to the public… it was that a GMC student told Green Mountain Animal Defenders that the pair would be slaughtered, and then GMAD then told VINE Sanctuary, who offered to take Lou and Bill, give top quality veterinary care, and retire them. It was not that the college was being transparent. It was a student being transparent about what was unfolding. Why was it said it was a democratic vote? When it was “about 80 students” who voted to slaughter Lou and Bill, instead of the whole student body of closer to 790? And why was not larger community vote allowed, when so many, over 50,000 ppl, had signed petitions? Why haven’t Vet records been transparent and why has not euthanasia documentation by a Vet been transparent? Why was there never any true discussion with even one of the thousands of people who have cared and who were offering good for Lou and Bill? Benefactors even offering tens of thousands of dollars to contribute to GMC if they would allow Lou and Bill to go to a sanctuary? Why was it one liner scripted lines given to anyone who called: “the College has made it’s decision”? THAT, is “utter transparency?” And what about now, with Bill, where is the transparency as to GMC’s real plans for him, how long will GMC let him live? Why won’t GMC give him to a sanctuary? “We won’t abdicate our responsibility to our animals”, it was said. It is “responsible” to Kill Bill and serve him for hamburger eventually? That is being responsible for Bill? Does Bill feel that way too? Aside from the fact that all sentient creatures do feel and do fight to stay alive, it has been said that 11 yr old Oxen meat would need to be mixed with better meat to be palatable, this idea of eventual slaughter for Bill, is “responsible”?
    The statement of “receive care consistent with appropriate livestock practice” is open-ended and was crafted that way so that Request for Common Cause could be sent out to Ag folks to gain support against protestors and push the tide in the opposite direction.
    How did the protesting all get pinned on Vegans by GMC, when perhaps most of us, are not vegans, but are compassionate people who care?
    How does ego, that can be part of higher education, interfere with what is honestly best for an animal? How do ideas over ride fact, what could have been done for Lou’s hock? How was death the answer for a hurt hock, aside from everything GMC has said? How did wanting to be a model for sustainable farming and wanting an excellent program, over ride, what was best for Lou’s hock and what is best now, for Bill?
    Why should an animal stay with anyone who wanted to kill him? If my neighbor wanted to kill his cat, I would do something about that and make sure that the cat did not stay with someone who, at one time had wanted to kill the cat….and might again wish to, someday.
    So yes, I’ve read articles that say “where we get our meat from, is not pets.” Well, but Bill and Lou, are/were pets, they were companion animals, they were “part of the Farm Crew.” They are/were also Livestock and also Draft Animals. Bill and Lou, are/were all of those.
    Why should any one support a college to kill “their” animals that live on a farm on a college campus? Why, by the luck of the draw, should those animals end up there, why should they be killed?
    Sure, it is better than had they gone to a factory farm or veal farm, sure. But, what if they had just been someone’s cows instead? Someone who just enjoyed them, appreciated them, valued them and the work they did plowing and then just let them retire and live happily with a lot of love?
    Yes, GMC should have really cared about Lou’s status. And GMC should really care now, about Bill’s status too, and not kill Bill. And let him go to a sanctuary where no one there ever wanted to kill him. I would think that would be good for Bill. think that would be best.