Bill & Lou
From Sharon MacNair, President Green Mountain Animal Defenders
Green Mountain Animal Defenders (GMAD) was saddened when we learned of Green Mountain Collegeís decision to send two oxen, Bill and Lou, to slaughter after serving the college as laborers, teachers, and mascots for over ten years.
After a leg injury this summer, Lou has been unable to continue working on the schoolís farm. His partner, Bill, apparently refused to work with any other oxen, so the school was faced with a decision of the pairís fate.
Green Mountain College approached the decision to slaughter Bill and Lou from the perspective of the environmental sustainability of the school and its farm. It is our understanding that the school does not have the land capacity or resources to continue to house Bill and Lou along with the working oxen team that replaced the pair. In an effort to find an environmentally sound, but also compassionate solution to this situation, we contacted the VINE Animal Sanctuary in Springfield, Vermont.
VINE has veterinarians with the expertise required to provide for Louís injury, which is not life threatening. VINE also has the capacity, resources, and staff to provide long-term care for both oxen. In discussions with VINE, GMAD offered to help defray the cost of transportation and veterinary care for the pair. With all this in mind, VINE graciously offered Bill and Lou a place to retire at the sanctuary.
The kind people at VINE†immediately contacted Green Mountain College expecting that the college would accept this offer because it meant their mascots, Bill and Lou, could continue to be ambassadors for the schoolís humane and sustainable farming mission. Unfortunately, we were all surprised when Green Mountain College declined VINEís offer and continued to advocate for slaughtering the oxen.
In order to gauge opinions and gather support for Bill & Lou, GMAD posted a petition on-line. Thousands of people from Vermont and beyond have expressed their compassion and widespread support and want to see the pair retire at VINE Sanctuary. Through Bill and Lou, Green Mountain College has shown that agriculture can be environmentally sustainable, humane, and successful all at the same time. This is currently a lesson that we applaud Green Mountain College for teaching future farmers. However, as evidenced by the outcry of support for Bill and Lou, this message will be shattered if the pair is slaughtered. GMADís petition illustrated exactly what we expected, that the publicís image of Green Mountain College is uniquely tied to these two oxen. †
We acknowledge that Bill and Lou have had far better lives than most farm animals. It is our understanding that Green Mountain Collegeís commitment to obtaining humanely raised and locally sourced meat is one consideration behind its decision. However, Bill and Lou are institutions at the college and many present and former students have formed bonds with these animals that are akin to a relationship with a pet. This bond is illustrated by the fact that many Green Mountain College students and alumni have contacted us appealing for Bill & Louís lives.
It is GMADís position that after ten long years of laboring and teaching students at the college, Bill and Lou have earned a safe retirement. As a Vermont animal advocacy group, our ethic reflects those of many Green Mountain College students and alumni. These two members of the Green Mountain College community have gracefully and faithfully served and educated so many and they deserve to be honored by a retirement befitting their years of dedicated service.†
Green Mountain Animal Defenders will continue to be available and ready to provide whatever help we can in order to facilitate moving Bill and Lou to a sanctuary.