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Preliminary Postmortem Reflections

By now, everybody knows that Lou is dead—allegedly euthanized and buried in an undisclosed location in the middle of the night. The mysterious circumstances of his death make it difficult to know exactly what to say, and perhaps that was the point. And of course VINE staff—especially the two who twice went to see Bill and Lou at the college—are grieving, as are Lou’s friends on campus (including but not limited to Bill) and in the community.

All of Lou’s supporters, especially those who knew him personally,
deserve to know exactly why and how he died.

With all of that understood, here are a few of our preliminary thoughts. We say “preliminary” because, unless the college  produces a veterinarian to attest that he or she both mandated and enacted euthanasia for humane reasons using humane methods, we cannot know for sure what happened on the last night of Lou’s life. We do believe that all of Lou’s supporters, especially those who knew him personally, deserve to know exactly why and how he died.

If this was a real euthanasia —recommended and implemented by a vet for humane reasons and by humane methods— and Green Mountain College administrators really have decided not to kill Bill, then that represents a compassionate response to the concerns of the tens of thousands (including many GMC students, GMC alumni, GMC neighbors, and other Vermont citizens) who voiced their opposition to the proposed slaughter and consumption of two campus workers. We would be eager to laud Green Mountain College for choosing compassion and reason over defensiveness and rigidity were it not for disturbing questions about why and how Lou was killed.

Lou’s friends on campus and in the Poultney community have been keeping an eye on him in recent weeks. VINE Sanctuary staff also have had a couple of opportunities to look at him. Neither we nor our informants have seen any sign that Lou’s injury was of sufficient severity to mandate euthanasia. On the afternoon of what would be the last day of his life, he was seen strolling in the pasture.

According to the statement released by the college, Lou was killed in the middle of the night due to a sudden deterioration of his condition and then buried in an undisclosed location. Many material questions make this narrative troubling. How, exactly, was a grave large enough for a 1,000lb ox dug in the dark? How was the body lowered into that grave in the dark? Did a backhoe operator come out in the middle of the night to engineer these feats?

If so, was Lou killed before or after being transported to the grave site? Did a veterinarian come out in the middle of the night to examine him and administer a painless death? Or did the farm manager simply decide to kill him and, if so, by what method?

We would be eager to laud Green Mountain College for choosing compassion and reason over defensiveness and rigidity were it not for disturbing questions about why and how Lou was killed.

We are aware that, while veterinarians and backhoe operators rarely come out in the middle of the night, transports to slaughterhouses and rendering plants almost always occur at night. In order to ease the mind of the community, we ask Green Mountain College to produce documentation of veterinary involvement in Lou’s death.

We worry for Bill. While delighted to hear that an immediate death sentence no longer hangs over his head, we are troubled by the terms used in the college’s statement of its plans for him, which reference usual agricultural practices. As students and faculty of Green Mountain College are well aware, being critics of some farming practices themselves, many commonly used agricultural practices, while legal, are widely considered to be inhumane. We would like to hear a much more clear statement of the intention to allow Bill a humane retirement.

Oxen are cattle, and cattle are herd animals. We fear that Bill will be deliberately isolated and that any resulting depression will be cited as a justification to kill him too. We are sorry to have to have this concern, but the college’s previous intention to kill and eat Bill makes us wary for his welfare. We strongly urge –and encourage our supporters to urge– Green Mountain College to accept Farm Sanctuary’s generous offer to include Bill in their herd of special needs cattle, among whom he can find companionship and solace. (We would also be more than willing to welcome him here, but we understand that feelings about VINE run hot on campus right now.)

We strongly urge –and encourage our supporters to urge– Green Mountain College to accept Farm Sanctuary’s generous offer to include Bill in their herd of special needs cattle, among whom he can find companionship and solace.

We sincerely hope that Lou’s death was necessary and not deceptive. We sincerely hope that Bill will be treated kindly, as all elders should be. We sincerely hope that Green Mountain College administrators have decided not to make these two animals sacrificial symbols of sustainability, independence, or any other abstract principle.

We understand that it can be troubling to think about questions such as exactly how Lou was killed and buried, but we believe that such questions are at the heart of the spirit of inquiry that Green Mountain College purports to embody. We hope that college administrators do not intend, by making Lou literally disappear, to make all of the troubling questions raised by the controversy about Bill and Lou also disappear. Those questions remain and should be debated on campus in a humane manner that does not endanger the lives or well-being of any actual animals. VINE remains ready to participate in such dialogues, and VINE staff would readily attend any class or campus forum to which we were invited.

Again, VINE staff are grieving this death, particularly since its circumstances are so murky. In coming days, we will publish individually authored pieces reflecting the personal feelings and opinions of various staff members.

 

75 comments to Preliminary Postmortem Reflections

  • Sharon Henry-Vasquez
    I believe Lou was slaughtered.
  • tofu pup
    What a bunch of spiteful, puerile bastards. You grow up and think that adults are going to be less hideous than the demonic figures who tormented your childhood, only to find out they’re just playing the same fucked-up game; the stakes just get higher.
  • APASTOR
    I am taking comfort in the fact that GMC continues to embarrass itself publicly and it is my hope that anyone who has been following the biased stories published in the media will start seeing through the school’s press releases. It’s a lot easier for the media to interview GMC than to track down the private citizens who have been receiving abusive responses (or failure to acknowledge altogether) from GMC administration and from some of the students to thoughtful and polite emails and phone calls (in the first case) and messages and posts (in the second case). I will say that I personally spoke to several students who were diplomatic and polite; it is unfortunate that some of their colleagues have chosen to use personal attacks as a way to debate the Bill/Lou cause. This somehow does not seem to get in the press nor does Fonteyn even acknowledge misconduct on behalf of some of the student body, however small or large that number of students with reprehensible behavior be. It’s shameful that GMC is not being 100% transparent about this story.
  • I write murder mysteries for a living. Therefore I do not for one second believe that Lou, a 2 1/2 ton ox, was “euthanized” and “buried” in the middle of the night. How stupid does Green Mountain College think the rest of us are? How about some PROOF, murderers??? I have little doubt that Lou was transported to a slaughterhouse under cover of darkness, and if he is already dead, as I am sure he is, I hope with all my heart that Paul J. Fonteyn has to eat him for lunch every day for the rest of HIS (Fonteyn’s) life.
  • APASTOR
    Kudos on your blog post Les.
  • Dear Pattrice,

    Thank you, again, for all you’ve done for us with regard to these beautiful beings. We’re so grateful for all the time, thought, and effort you’ve given to saving these two animals and to helping us manage our thoughts about about them. We’re grateful to your for your advocacy.

    Boe Devi

  • Eeyore
    Paul’s brow is sweating. It’s late into the night, and the Green Mountain College president is pacing the floors of his administrative office, cigar smoke filling the air.

    “Dammit, you lackey! This crap about these 2 stupid cows of yours is all over the national news. I’ve got 50,000 emails clogging up my inbox over these goddamn animals, and now no slaughterhouse in Vermont will even kill these cows because of all the publicity. How did you let this bullshit (pun intended) get out of hand??”

    “I’m sorry, Paul,” says Obsequious Assistant. “It’s those crazy vegans. Someone told them we wanted to kill and eat our college mascots and well… they just went berserk. You know how those crazy animal rights people are.”

    “Well I can’t have this Bill and Lou shit taint my image as a benevolent and merciful diety — er, college president. Think of something quick. We can’t let those vegans win!!”

    “I’ve got it, sir!” A sly smile slowly creeps across Obsequious Assistant’s face. “We’ll turn the tables on the vegans! We’ll pretend that *we’re* the compassionate ones!”

    “Pshh. Just how do you propose to do THAT? If we give those cows to some sanctuary, it won’t show that we’re compassionate; it will make us look weak.”

    “No, no… even better. We will do something so clever that the community won’t be able to respond, because they won’t know what to believe. We’ll issue a vague public proclamation that we had to humanely euthanize the old cripple out of concerns for his health. No one can argue with that.”

    “Clever…. I like it! But what do you plan to do with the body? I can’t have some namby pamby bleeding heart college kids gather around that damn cow’s body. They’ll probably cry and take photos or something and post them on the internet.”

    “No, sir… we won’t *really* euthanize the damn cow. We’ll shove it into a trailer in the middle of the night and ship him to a secret killing place outside the area… you know, how the Nazis did… only not the same because, you know, it’s a cow. Then we’ll just *say* he was taken to an ‘undisclosed location.'”

    “Good, good. But what about the other cow? That fucker’s still going to be a thorn in our sides as long as people know he’s still alive. I’ll have “Free Bill” emails flying out of my ass for the rest of my tenure.”

    “Oh, him? Well, he’s the perfect pawn. To prove how compassionate and responsible we are, we’ll say we’re keeping safe him for his own benefit. You know, like the Nazis did — only different, because it’s a cow.”

    “Ah, your plan of deceit is brilliant! And then let’s use some more vague terminology about ‘sustainable practices’ or some shit, and the media will be so bored with it that the story will die… just like those cows!”

    “Exactly, sir.”

    <>

    “You start working on the public statement now. I’ll go fire up the trailer and get rid of that cow.”

    “Oh and one more thing…. Best throw something in there about vegan terrorist threats and harassment. That way we’ll seem like the victims, not the victimizers. Get it?”

    “I’m already on it sir…. already on it…”

  • bravebird
    @APastor, we did not post the full text of Akerman-Leist’s outburst because we do not want his libels against our organization to appear on our website.

    @Boe Devi, pattrice says thanks but this has been a collective effort all along. All five of us here (Aram, Cheryl, Kathy, Miriam, and pattrice) have spent the past month waking up and going to sleep thinking about Bill and Lou. Cheryl and Kathy are to be particularly commended for going to Poultney repeatedly to talk with students and see Bill and Lou. Because they had that direct contact with Lou, they are the ones feeling the most grief right now.

  • Matt
    This whole thing has been a disaster for the animal rights cause–in final effect, public relations, and politically. What a mess. It will take some time for the movement in Vermont to recover, and when it does, we must make sure we are very strategic with our actions.
  • JAH
    Let’s see… “spiteful, puerile bastards” and “murderers” and one more Nazi reference from three of the posts above. And then the question why many of us at GMC don’t feel inclined to respond to people outside of our community. Some may have more optimism that generating thoughtful discussion can follow from such disturbing language, but I don’t.
  • bravebird
    Jah, having gotten no reply to our repeated efforts to contact campus security about a student who has not only used such language (and worse) in reference to VINE but also has specifically accused VINE staff of threatening to murder GMC students, we feel no need to censor such comments here.

    Also, and more importantly, it is always the case on the internet that a controversy will provoke some people to make intemperate and even threatening remarks. In the course of this controversy, pattrice has personally been called a moron, a bitch, a cunt, an old lady, and a fascist and has been told that it’s good she’s so old (51!) because that means her dumb ideas will soon follow her into the grave. We’ve received threats too; we just don’t whine about them or use them as a disingenuous excuse to avoid legitimate critiques.

    I have no doubt — no doubt at all — that the preponderance of the literally thousands of communications to the college have been both polite and rational.

  • Jo Ward
    I am incredibly saddened by the news. If what GMC has said happened really did then that is one thing – if there was a cover up then the school has plummeted to the depths of (insert your own words here)- none of this makes sense.

    What was once a place of higher learning, respect and ethical behavior has become something entirely different – for what?

  • JAH
    Hello Miriam, I didn’t mean to suggest that VINE should censor posts, in fact, I appreciate that you generally do not do so in most cases that I can tell. My point was that I’m normally pleased to engage in discussions but when pilloried with name-calling, and worse, I find the best response is just to sigh and to disengage. Is this whining? Well, I don’t think so nor do I think this is an excuse to avoid legitimate critiques, but I do think I know when something is worth discussing and when it isn’t.

    I recognize the comfort it must bring folks to paint us here at GMC as evil incarnate. Comfort, because it makes the good guys/bad guys so much more distinct and obvious. Somehow it isn’t enough to disagree with the decision or even with the people who made the decision. It has become clear over the past few weeks that people must be wholly attacked. Here’s a short list to match the one you posted:

    Blood-thirsty sadists
    Do the same to them that they do to Bill and Lou
    Sociopaths
    Power hungry killers
    Kill those people who took (sic) this decision
    Foolish, stupid children

    I’m sure we each have our own filters regarding what we’re reading about each other, but my sense is that an exorbitant amount of really hateful things have been directed towards the college and its people. And I likewise know that you and your staff have received some of this too. The point shouldn’t be to outrace one another to the bottom.

  • bravebird
    Jah, actually this is pattrice.

    Everybody knows that, in any online debate, somebody will eventually be called Hitler. Due to the sheer volume of communications the college has received, I don’t doubt that there have been many hateful comments.

    It’s also true that we tend toward polarization in the United States, not knowing how to find common ground or even recognize the humanity of those with whom we deeply disagree.

    But I would like to point out that our efforts to find common ground with GMC were repeatedly rebuffed. Our polite letters were ignored. Our offers to come to campus to answer student questions were refused. Scholars known to top administrators even intervened, imploring them to just sit down with us for a face to face discussion. I personally made the point to Steve Fesmire that I believed we could turn down the heat if only we could meet.

    So, I think that GMC needs to take some responsibility for the impact of its actions instead of blaming VINE for all of its woes. GMC got the ball rolling by boastfully posting the intention to kill Bill and Lou on Facebook, where alumni who loved them were sure to see it. If you don’t want heat on a controversial decision, you probably shouldn’t post it on Facebook. (Isn’t that what we always tell teenagers–don’t put anything on Facebook that you don’t want the whole world to see?)

    All the VINE-blaming in the world won’t change the fact that the ensuring controversy would have unfolded exactly as it did whichever sanctuary had stepped up to offer refuge. Once GMAD posted a petition, the national organizations were bound to find out and notify their memberships. Heck, just Facebook is enough. One FB petition created by an individual not affiliated with any organization had amassed 26,000 signatures before we even saw it.

    When something goes viral like that, chaos is bound to ensue. I saw that starting to happen very early in this controversy and tried to head it off by writing personally to the college President. He never replied. Again, GMC needs to look at its own handling of this public relations nightmare rather than blaming everything on a small animal sanctuary with a staff of 5 and a budget that does extend far beyond direct animal care.

  • Geoff
    “We fear that Bill will be deliberately isolated ”

    Are you kidding?? You really think that GMC wants so badly to kill Bill that they’ll torture him into his on demise?

    Use common sense. Do you believe any person who worked with Bill would allow him to be intentionally mistreated? This type of thinking and commentary really hurts your argument.

  • bravebird
    @Geoff People who “worked with” Bill sometimes used a whip on him. Nuff said.

    Or maybe not enough said, because those very people have such callouses on own hearts that they believe that such use of force is not unkind. We do understand that. We do understand that young people who came to the college as animal lovers have been systematically taught to have less sympathy for animals. We do understand that animal agriculture requires such callousness. To force an ox to work, waving a whip (which reminds him of the pain it can give even if you don’t use it), requires you to either (a) consciously know that you are using fear to compel compliance and not care that your are doing so; or (b) ignore the animal’s feelings so that you can continue to think of yourself as kind. To take a calf away from a cow so that you can take her milk instead requires you to either (a) admit that you are causing a mother grievous pain, or (b) pretend that her sorrow doesn’t exist so that you can continue to think of yourself as kind.

    Probably, none of the students of the farm program want to admit that they have become more callous towards animals than they were when they entered. That’s probably a big part of why the retirement of Bill and Lou was resisted. Showing mercy to them might raise too many disturbing questions about the lack of mercy shown to others. Better to hide behind words like “humane” used to describe practices that are anything but kind.

  • Marty
    GMC is the loser here, their reputation, as well as my home State of Vermont. GMC could have been the leader as I’ve always said by putting Lou and Bill out to pasture after their service was done instead of slaughter. They could have led a new teaching model, it would have been a win-win for both GMC and Lou and Bill and all collegiate farm animals.

    I would not be surprised to hear that Lou was sent to a slaughterhouse. I’m sure there are many at GMC who know Lou’s true fate on the 11th. The truth always prevails. Good luck GMC. (from a former Vermonter, St. Johnsbury, for 21 years).

  • jack rose
    Eeyore lol well said ! I read the article too and he is definately feeling the “heat” everyone at the Vines that has worked so tirelessly should be proud of what they have achieved, what Green Mountain fail to grasp is that even if they succeed in killing Bill, the International Spotlight is on them they will be held acountable for any more crimes against animals.
  • Geoff
    “People who “worked with” Bill sometimes used a whip on him. Nuff said.”

    And how did you come to KNOW this to be true? You don’t so Nuff said. Don’t pretend to know that which you don’t.

    Also, thanks for not printing most of what I posted but that seems to be your modus operandi. It really slants the discussion in your direction but hey, it’s your blog. Just don’t play the “open-minded discussion, common ground card” as that’s not what your after at all.

    GMC has stood tall against the railings of an extremist group who has done nothing but move ever closer to the lonely fringes of society. You can believe you’ve hurt their reputation but in reality, you’ve moved many more than your number to stand with them. Nice work.

  • Kathy Chadwell
    Thank you Vine sanctuary for your continued compassion & Integrity through out all this. GMC has lied and flip flopped more than any politician I have ever seen
  • Geoff
    “Probably, none of the students of the farm program want to admit that they have become more callous towards animals than they were when they entered.”

    Pure speculation on your part. They could just as easily have grown to be more compassionate toward animals from their experience. There is no evidence for either.

    “To force an ox to work, waving a whip (which reminds him of the pain it can give even if you don’t use it), requires you to either (a) consciously know that you are using fear to compel compliance and not care that your are doing so; or (b) ignore the animal’s feelings so that you can continue to think of yourself as kind. To take a calf away from a cow so that you can take her milk instead requires you to either (a) admit that you are causing a mother grievous pain, or (b) pretend that her sorrow doesn’t exist so that you can continue to think of yourself as kind.”

    So here it is. This was never about the specific Bill and Lou situation but was just an opportunity to preach your fringe gospel to the public. Now that is truly exploitive of their lives!

    And do you believe that these animals WANT to spend time with you or any other human for that matter? So you aren’t you just as guilty of “mistreatment” in keeping them in your sanctuary/prison so that you can feel good about yourself being a benevolent dictator over them? I’ve never seen nor been to Farm Sanctuary but it hsould have no pens, gates nor walls and animals should be free to do whatever they please – go where they want, eat as much as they want, whenever and whatever they want even if it kills them because it’s all about their happiness. Otherwise, it’s UNKIND.

  • Geoff
    VINE has just reinforced the public perception of vegans as nothing more than folks in a nutritionally-induced delusional state.

    “I have no doubt — no doubt at all — that the preponderance of the literally thousands of communications to the college have been both polite and rational.”

    Evidence please. Oh, that’s right. Pure speculation again.

    “We’ve received threats too; we just don’t whine about them or use them as a disingenuous excuse to avoid legitimate critiques.”

    Umm, I think you’re whining about them here AND, by selectively posting comments you are avoiding legitimate critiques yet allow unfounded speculation to go unchallenged by fact.

  • Lisa
    The reason the world sees GMC students as monsters is first and foremost because of how they consistantly avoid speaking about Bill and Lou, choosing instead to voice their opinions on virtually anything they can think of. You rarely see a GMC student say anything about Bill and Lou’s life or their feelings or the love Bill and Lou Feel for each other or the loss Bill is going through, or the comparison of GMC to the boys retiring to sanctuary with their own kind. Or any other compassionate statements. The whining, denial and absolutely THE MOST DISGUSTING, VILE reactions from the students at GMC is how THEY are being treated. Repugnant little creatures. Here are some of the more vocal students statements. I know, the only comment will be how I’m treating these students.

    http://emptyallcages.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/picture1.jpg

  • nita m moccia
    I believe Lou was murdered….and that is that. middle of the night, a pre-dug hole for his grave??? its sound so jimmy Hoffa to me…………..Lou was mistreated, and then murdered….for what? To make a point to all of involved on so many levels of consciousness? The Colleges way of saying” we are in control now so go home you tree hugger?”…………………I worry for Bill, now without his brother…and knowing quite well danger lurks not far away for him. I wish that I has a magic wand to make Bill small so i could slip in between the barbed wire, and put him in my tiny car and drive to a place far far away from all danger………..and then I would like to be large again, and look for the grave site, dig up Lou and preform a necropsy…………..and if murdered, prosecute those murderers…then cleans that institution……….I have been crying hard ….and now I hear that the new york times is covering this story, and still the president of that fatal educational institution , will not speak a word outside his citadel of safety….. i must say that my Karma hopes to run over his Dogma …………shame on all of you GMC…and my heartfelt condolences to the VINE Staff………….
  • nita m moccia
    PS Geoff (above) is a frightening individual and i hope never to meet him in this life time..’.benevolent dictators’ my ass……………..oh and who’s the preacher here Geoff???……………..you and your empty rhetoric…………..i hope you don’t have a companion animal
  • Karen Moulder
    I applaud vine for well said comments, expressing how we all feel, and what we fear. Vine has done an excellent job handling this, it is so sad that stubbornness on GMC s part cost the life of poor Lou . Thank you vine for what you are doing.
  • Hpc
    YOU PEOPLE(VINE) are insane.
  • Geoff
    “nita m moccia” = another reason folks won’t embrace veganism.
  • Geoff
    “i hope never to meet him in this life time” …… BOOOO! I’m right behind you.
  • YOURE A C**T
    C**T

    asterisks inserted by blog moderator

  • I think the problem we are dealing with here is the ideological impulse behind the actions of GMC, many of their students and their pro “animal farming” network. These people all share a speciesist mindset. Of course they will consider a position that proposes animal rights as “extreme”. In the end of the day we question their belief. They believe/assume that humans are superior to nonhuman animals, and they will find “proof” for their belief looking back at thousands of years in human “civilization”. They don’t care that people like us animal rights advocates have also always been around in human history. And here we are, and today we are gonna make our case even more so.
  • nita m moccia
    I have never known VINE Sanctuary to be an “Extremist” animal rights group…..They are , however very intelligent people looking for a root cause of all animal suffering…Their articles have been very informative, and makes me re-read many of the past feminist author’s again, such as Susan Griffin etc……Not only do they operate a top notch facility for farm animals…these well educated people turned around aggressive fighting cocks into benevolent creatures….I see no harm in looking for root causes to an epidemic in our culture…..Promoting Veganism is a political choice for many, and others for health reasons…..from reading and educating myself from their well written articles, I to ponder the roots cause of such violence in our society….between each other or directed towards animals ( thought i believe the two are the same). I believe, (and i was NOT lectured this or forced to take a side)that a meat eating society is a sick society…sick in health and sick in mind body and spirit. I feel that the consumption of meat from animals that endured a horrible life and death, release something in that muscle tissue, making people sick and aggressive…………I don’t know if this is true, but my GUT says it has something to do with a culture that beats its children, disposes of their elderly in understaffed and dirty nursing homes, beats its animals, and kills, murders, rapes ……..I have never In my 58 yrs of life seen or heard of a murdering Vegetarian or Vegan….have you? Their(VINE) wanting to understand more deeply the effects of a meat eating society is in no ways Extremist…Having a Sanctuary is more than opening the gates and letting them in….its about why they are there in the first place, and what brought that person/s to abuse and neglect at all…………..Sanctuaries like VINE are not for bunny hugging petting farm animals types for happy sake….Facilities like these are to give sanctuary to animals and to educate the masses as to why there are sanctuaries at all….( repeating myself better go)….If you want Extremist….think PETA ( and that is my own opinion).
  • Geoff: “Use common sense. Do you believe any person who worked with Bill would allow him to be intentionally mistreated?”

    You seem to be working under the impression that oxen are an independent species that prefers social isolation. This is untrue. Bovines are incredibly gregarious, curious animals who thrive under circumstances allowing them to engage in socially normal behaviors – like interacting with others of their own species. To keep one socially isolated IS mistreatment and IS unjust and cruel. For his entire life, Bill has had the companionship of Lou, not merely a member of his own species but the sole member of his tiny herd…which has diminished by half, leaving Bill alone.

    The just action for Bill is to be permitted life at a sanctuary (of which two have offered safe haven) where he can engage in normal behaviors with other cattle/bovines. Your argument that a qualified, well-run sanctuary is somehow more cruel than solitary confinement borders on the ridiculous – for someone who keeps claiming that VINE makes “assumptions”, you sure are great at speculation as well (since you’ve never been to Farm Sanctuary or VINE, how can you claim that the rescued cows and steers there are worse off than a lone, older oxen on a working farm?)

  • Jo Ward
    GMC staff/students just keep at it with the bad language and attitude and no I am not a vegan. I am disgusted at GMC and anyone attached to it at this point.
  • Bob
    Marji: Bill has several bovine companions at Green Mountain College. Who said otherwise?
  • Geoff
    “GMC staff/students just keep at it with the bad language and attitude ”

    I assume you are referring to a comment allowed to be posted by the moderator to continue to inflame the debate. There’s no evidence that that comment came from GMC students or staff.

    Realize that this is a blog with comments selctively allowed and denied. It is great that Shelby has been allowed to voice her opinion. I too have been allowed some comments but
    those that demonstrate the hypocrisy and, in some cases, unfounded speculation being posted are not allowed.

    “Facilities like these are to give sanctuary to animals and to educate the masses as to why there are sanctuaries at all.”

    So you expect GMC to support VINE’s mission of promoting veganism by opposing animal agriculture? Please.

    @ nita m moccia
    Look – you are entitled to your opinion and you can support VINE, GMAD and others. But you cross the line when you choose to attack a group who doesn’t share your belief system.

    “Your argument that a qualified, well-run sanctuary is somehow more cruel than solitary confinement borders on the ridiculous – for someone who keeps claiming that VINE makes “assumptions”, you sure are great at speculation as well (since you’ve never been to Farm Sanctuary or VINE, how can you claim that the rescued cows and steers there are worse off ……

    In my OP, I stated that I’ve never been to the sanctuary and my comment was meant to point out that humans thinking they know what an ox wants is foolish talk and sanctuary is more about the feel good for humans than it is about what an ox wants. I guess I did speculate that VINE doesn’t let its animals wander wherever they want (on and off the grounds – fence-free), have free access to any feeds they “want” … etc. because those animals would be dead. So in reality, you do control the animal’s environment. Perhaps not what he really wants.

    READ My comment:
    “And do you believe that these animals WANT to spend time with you or any other human for that matter? So you aren’t you just as guilty of “mistreatment” in keeping them in your sanctuary/prison so that you can feel good about yourself being a benevolent dictator over them? I’ve never seen nor been to Farm Sanctuary but it hsould have no pens, gates nor walls and animals should be free to do whatever they please – go where they want, eat as much as they want, whenever and whatever they want even if it kills them because it’s all about their happiness. Otherwise, it’s UNKIND.

  • Geoff, what kind of experience do you have with cattle?

    And what kind of experience do you have with sanctuaries and working farms? Your responses (which most farmers would disagree with) regarding what cattle do and do not need to thrive seem to indicate you have little experience with either sanctuaries or working farms.

    You seem to want to argue for the sake of arguing…that is the only reason I can think for the illogical and irrational arguments you are making regarding Bill’s welfare (and “good” animal welfare, in general).

  • Geoff
    Marji –

    I have cattle, worked in beef and dairy cattle nutrition for 20 yrs, work closely with vets at the local Collee of Veterinary Medicine, have a BS in zoology (including animal behavior coursework)and an MS in wildlife nutrition and spent over 10 yrs working as a animal health technician in a veterinary hospital. So I think I might have some understanding of cattle.

    I also donate hay on occasion to our local horse rescue “sanctuaries” (there are 2 or 3 in our area) and have visited their facilities more than once.

    You continue to miss the point I’m trying to make. VINE or any other sanctuary has just imposed a different set of restrictions on its animals – and rightly so.

    Do you think Bill wants to ride in a trailer to VINE? Or walk? Animals also become very bound and habituated to place – why wouldn’t moving Bill from his home of 10+yrs be distressing to him? Why can’t Bill’s social needs be met by bringing in another steer to GMC?

    You are welcome to disagree with my opinions but please don’t try to challege the decades of education end experience it is based on. Thanks.

  • Hi Geoff,

    Then it seems you should know that isolating an animal used to interacting with members of his own kind is not practicing good welfare. And you should know that a well-run sanctuary can offer far better welfare than any well-run farm that profits off of slaughter (bad welfare). Your arguments seemed to indicate a lack of this knowledge, so it is good to know you are actually familiar with cattle.

    Of course transport is stressful. Does that temporary distress mean he should spend the rest of his life alone? Bill is not of use to GMC – he has no value as a draft animal. They have continued to exhibit disregard for his welfare – remember, he was to be slaughtered (bad welfare) for no other reason than Lou was injured. Why would I have faith that they would do what is in his best interest? Why wouldn’t a sanctuary that expresses an avid desire to care about Bill as a unique individual be a worse situation than a working farm that was going to kill a perfectly healthy animal b/c another animal was injured? That defies logic!

    At the sanctuary where I work, the cattle are moved to different pastures throughout the year. They get very excited about this new move. They do not spiral into depths of depression. As much as nonhumans (and humans) get habituated, they are equally capable of adapting to new challenges…and some, like many bovines I know, get excited about new things. I imagine Bill would adapt to a new environment and, once integrated into an actual herd, may even find new puzzles enjoyable and mentally stimulating (plenty of research on cattle show they enjoy learning new things).

    Why on earth, knowing cattle are social, would you argue that existing in perpetual solitude (or constantly having your companion slaughtered) is better for Bill than a well-run sanctuary? I find it baffling, especially with the information that you actually know something about cows (colloquially used).

  • Bob
    Hurray! I’m in! Marji, Bill is not, nor will be, isolated. See my comment above.
  • Geoff
    The comment that an animal going to slaughter somehow makes all of the living (10+ yrs for Bill) bad welfare makes this not a discussion worth having. Unless nothing dies in a sanctuary, it’s pretty twisted to use death as a measure of overall welfare.

    @Bob – Thanks for the news. I was sure that GMC wouldn’t have left Bill by himself.

    So now, what about the other cattle that will miss Bill (and he, them )if he’s whisked away to some new foreign land? Sounds like “bad welfare” to me.

    Marji – I’m waiting to see your credentials that make you an “animal welfare professional”.

  • Rucio
    As the owner of 2 racing greyhounds, I find Geoff’s attitudes (which seem to bounce from extreme to inconsistent extreme just to be contrary) disturbing. Like GMC and their oxen, the greyhound tracks see the animals purely in economic terms, with a little sentimental “respect” applied to make it more palatable. When the dog is no longer competitive, it is euthanized. Or it is given to organizations that find homes for greyhounds. Geoff would apparently argue that the dogs should stay at the track kennels, even though the owners no longer have any use, and thus “love”, for them. Analogously, it is hard to endorse Bill’s continued residence at GMC.
  • Geoff, if you honestly believe that the unnecessary taking of an animal’s life is not bad welfare then yeah, this isn’t a discussion worth having. Euthanasia and natural death are different than slaughter. Very different.

    I have a degree in animal science with a minor in animal behavior and nearly 15 years working with farmed animals in myriad settings including a dairy farm and for the past ten years at a sanctuary for farmed animals. Boo.

  • Geoff
    “if you honestly believe that the unnecessary taking of an animal’s life is not bad welfare then yeah, this isn’t a discussion worth having. Euthanasia and natural death are different than slaughter. Very different.”

    In your opinion slaughtering an animal for food is an unnecessary death.

    Marji – As someone who is in such opposition to animal agriculture, why would you choose animal science and working in animal agriculture, particularly for 15 years? That sounds completely counter to what you espouse as your core belief(s). Also, the lonely steer argument has been put to rest by Bob.

    Rucio – nobody is saying you can’t adopt a greyhound or 10 if they’re available. But I don’t think someone attacking GMC for not giving up THEIR steers is not even close to adopting racetrack greyhounds. And if someone came and wanted to take your greyhounds back to the track, I would support you in your right to deny them that request. That’s the difference. No analogy there with GMC and Bill – sorry.

  • Rucio
    Geoff, GMC wanted to kill their oxen (not steers; and have killed one already), just as the greyhound tracks do when they no longer want the burden of caring for them.
  • Geoff
    Rucio, rucio – you better stick with the dogs. Oxen is not a species nor breed. It is a job – most often performed by castrated male cattle known as steers although one could also use female cattle – heifers, if never having calved or cows, if they have. Those are the choices.

    ” just as the greyhound tracks do when they no longer want the burden of caring for them.”

    What do humans do with people we no longer want to care for? Oh, yes. We send them to those … ummmm ….. old folks sanctuaries where no free-living human ever wants to go. Sound familiar?

  • Shelby
    BILL WAS EUTHANIZED AT 4AM at his home.

    He was then taken to an undisclosed area to be buried. For the protection of everyone involved, nobody will ever know where he was buried. But I am sure by the time they arrived to the burial site, the sun had come up.

    No one will be eating Lou except for the earth.
    Your campaign should stop. If you continue, your publicity will deteriorate and sanctuaries and animal activists will be given a bad name. Laws will be put in place so that you can never do this to a business/farm/college in the state of Vermont, ever again. Stop what you are doing. Move on. Do not become a neighbor that farmers hate. Your organization will be hurt and farmers will not want to give any of their animals to you.

    Think about it. You might hurt your reputation. Move on. Use your creativity in a more positive way. Your words towards Green Mountain College will start hurting your reputation.
    I will also be forced to continue making more satire videos slamming your organization and your cause if you do not quit.
    Try and sue me.

    This is you first warning. And hopefully your last.

    Thanks.

  • I work at a sanctuary for farmed animals, Geoff.
  • Shelby
    CRAP! Hey GUYS! I ACCIDENTLY SAID BILL!!! I MEANT LOU!

    SOO SORRY!
    I can’t edit my comment :( Bill was NOT euthanized. And Bill will not be killed or slaughtered. Damn I can’t believe I made that mistake.

    I meant Lou :(

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