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Portions of this now amended Action Alert were based on representations made to VINE by the Green Mountain College Farm Manager, who led us to believe that he was speaking for the college. We have since learned that was not true and that some of his statements did not reflect the official college position. We sincerely regret any hard feelings caused by that misunderstanding. We encourage the college community to revisit any decisions that it may have made based on inaccurate information

Specifically, we have since learned that the college asserts that (a) killing Bill and Lou would be best for them, and (b) killing Bill and Lou would be the “sustainable” thing to do, to keep them from wasting resources now that one of them is disabled. The college does intend to serve them as hamburger but does not see this as the primary motive for the slaughter.

Green Mountain College does still plan to kill Lou and Bill, and action is still needed.

Please see subsequent blog posts for details.

Green Mountain College is poised to kill two oxen named Bill and Lou who have served their college farm for ten long years. ACT NOW to prevent it!

Bill and Lou have been a working team of oxen at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT for ten years. They were pressed into service by staff at Cerridwen Farm – the teaching farm on campus – to do everything from plowing fields to generating electricity. Over the years, they became so well loved that they’re even the profile picture for the farm’s Facebook page!

A few months ago, Lou became unable to be worked any longer. Bill won’t work with anyone else. Therefore, the college has concluded that both of them must be killed.

DEATH is their reward for 10 long years of hard work.

Yes, Green Mountain College has decided that Bill and Lou’s long lives of service should be rewarded by their slaughter – and for what? According to their own press releases, the school will get, at best, a couple of months of low-grade hamburger out of their bodies.

This is especially heartbreaking because they have an excellent home waiting for them.

VINE Sanctuary has offered to provide Bill and Lou with permanent homes. We have the ability and resources to care for them for the rest of their natural lives. Sadly, though, the college is determined to kill them instead.

Bill and Lou

Farm Manager Kenneth Mulder (with whip) working Bill and Lou

For ten years, they served the needs of those more powerful than they are.

Now it’s time to let them serve their own needs.

Please contact the folks at Green Mountain College and urge them to reconsider. It would be especially powerful for people from Vermont to contact them, and even more so for alumni to add their voices, so if you know someone from Vermont and/or Green Mountain College, please forward this notice to them as well. Feel free to use and/or modify the letter below, or write your own. Please send the letter to the following people:

Bill Throop Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs:

Kenneth Mulder Farm Manager, Research Associate & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies: (We no longer believe that letters to Farm Manager Mulder would be helpful.)

Dear Sir:

I am writing to urge you to allow Bill and Lou to live out the remainder of their natural lives, in peace and contentment, at VINE Sanctuary, a reputable organization which has offered to care for them.

Should you choose to reverse their death sentences, the rewards garnered by Green Mountain College will far exceed whatever paltry sum their slaughter would bring to the school.

Conversely, whatever small amount of cash would be made by killing them will be far outweighed by the negative press which will follow in the wake of their deaths. (We now know that economics is not the primary motive for the slaughter.

Bill and Lou have served your college well for ten long years. Students and faculty alike have expressed how much they care about these individuals. They deserve to be given the rest of their lives to live as they choose. Just because they are not human does not mean they do not care about their existence.

We will be watching to see what decision you make.




  • CQ

    Dear Miriam and pattrice and Cheryl,

    I join the thousands upon thousands of human hearts who love Bill and Lou in sending you condolences. We’re wrapping our collective arms around you — and Bill and Lou, who you fought so valiantly to protect. Can you feel the huge hug?

    I hope it’s some consolation that the tyrants who have tried to dominate these beautiful oxen have not succeeded. They can never succeed in diminishing or deleting a single element of Bill’s or Lou’s essence — their serenity, sweetness, affection. Their gentleness, meekness, agreeableness. Their power, perseverance, and patience under the yoke of bondage. Their faithful, trusting, trustworthy nature.

    Though gone from our sight, Lou hasn’t lost his embedded qualities. He’s moving right on, and at the same time remains with those of us who recognize and value his real substance.

    As for Bill, no matter how he continues to be treated by “owners” who label oxen “livestock,” he is still not deprived of an ounce of his inherent spiritual and moral worth. Nor is he, in truth, separated from Lou. Their two hearts are forever linked, forever one.

    Something inside me — and I believe inside most of us — feels compassion for those who believe they have power to subjugate, exploit, oppress, manipulate, and remove the rights of others. It seems like they don’t feel loved. If they did, they would not withhold affection and protection from those who are easiest to love — the harmless, devoted animals in their care. And not just Bill and Lou, but also every unnamed sheep, pig, and chicken who they breed, then attempt to control and destroy.

    It also seems like they feel a lot of fear. I think that’s why they oppress and deceive their neighbors, human and other-than-human: They’re afraid of losing their hold on their pretend power. They must be petrified of having to relinquish long-held, now-obsolete beliefs — beliefs about human superiority, about environmental sustainability, about the morality of killing and consuming fellow beings.

    As carriers of the flag of justice for all animals, as holders of the flame of freedom for all animals, let’s make a pact. Let’s be as serene, sweet, and strong, as humble, patient, and persevering
    as our amazing teachers, Bill and Lou. In expressing the attributes endowed on us all equally, we, like our oxen mentors, will remain undefeated. Because goodness is undefeatable.


    Green Mountain Oxen: Bill Lives, Lou Dies
    By Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. on November, 12, 2012 in Animal Emotions

    Lou, one of two oxen condemned to death after serving a Vermont college, has been killed because of a recurring and incurable injury, we’re told. Now, people are worried about his best friend Bill who’s been condemned to death because he couldn’t possibly live without Lou. We wouldn’t kill a dog whose best friend died and Bill shouldn’t be killed. This is not euthanasia.

    My interview about Bill and Lou is here –


  • Some have asked and the actual interview begins around time marker 4:50 at

  • just posted at my Psychology today essay by Patrice Jones –

    You can view the comment at the following url

    Subject: We know that Lou was walking
    We know that Lou was walking easily and grazing at 2 or 3 in the afternoon of
    what would be his last day. Given that data, the late-night timing of the
    so-called “euthanasia,” and the absence of his body on campus, I have grave
    concerns about the manner of his death. While VINE’s official statement will
    be forthcoming, I urge people to join me in demanding that the college
    produce a statement from a veterinarian, attesting that he or she recommended
    and implemented euthanasia for humane reasons and by humane methods.
    Otherwise, the college must explain to the students and neighbors of the
    college who loved Lou exactly why and how he died.


    Whoever got a photograph of Lou at 2-3 pm yesterday needs to contact the local paper (Rutland Herald) and let them know. GMC needs to be exposed in the press for lying to the press and releasing false stories.

    CONTACT Rutland Herald by PHONE AT: 800-498-4296 in Vermont and 800-776-5512 outside Vermont
    CONTACT Rutland Herald MAIL: P.O. Box 66827 Wales StreetRutland, VT 05702-0668

  • Sarah

    I’m just curious as to why VINE feels that giving a hurt animal pain meds is more humane than euthanization? The animal would then be drugged up and if an injury were to happen again, the animal would not be able to really feel it and would just continue to hurt itself more. Lou was euthanized in his home…is that really an issue? Perhaps the issue is the fact that GMC did the euthanization and NOT VINE, since VINE does euthanize when need-be.

  • bravebird

    @Sarah, this is one of many topics about which students were misled by GMC faculty. Pain meds for cattle are like Tylenol or Motrin for us– they don’t dope them up at all!!!

    Also see more recent blog posts: VINE stepped aside, strongly suggesting that Bill and Lou be sent to Farm Sanctuary. We don’t and never did have any sort of stake in them coming here in particular, just going to an animal *sanctuary* where animal *welfare* (not animal use) professionals could make decisions in their best interests.

    Finally, just because we see that GMC faculty continue to slander our organization on this point: VINE has never sought donations in relation to Bill and Lou and, indeed, suspended even routine fundraising during the controversy.

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