Coburn elaborated that the college had the environment in mind when it made the decision.
“Even if the cost of keeping Bill and Lou alive does not come out of our pockets, it does come out of the environment’s,” said Coburn.
But Bruce Friederich, senior director for strategic initiatives at Farm Sanctuary, an animal welfare organization, called the college’s logic “coldly utilitarian” and out of step with a truly sustainable agenda.
“Within the college’s own sustainability ethic, this decision makes no sense,” he said in an interview with TheDC News Foundation. “For the same reason sustainability would not point toward euthanizing your pet dog or cat because she was consuming resources and not contributing beyond companionship, a true environmental ethic that incorporates sustainability does not point toward killing integral members of your community, which is what the college called Bill and Lou, simply because one of them can’t work anymore.”
Green Mountain College said the decision was made with input from students, faculty, and farmers. The issue was approached from both ethical and environmental perspectives.
Jones was surprised by what she viewed as a close-minded attitude toward the issue from the student population of the college. She expected them to act out against the administration. Instead, no one said a word.
“Everybody in the area knows what’s going on and not one student has … gotten in touch,” she said. “It’s practically locked down at that school.”
Animal welfare advocates, including Jones and Friederich, have attempted to generate public interest toward the plights of Lou and Bill. Friederich wrote columns and gave interviews urging the college to reconsider.
“There is no way that the college could — and it hasn’t tried to — argue that Bill and Lou would want to be killed and eaten by what they formerly considered to be their community,” he said.
Bill and Lou might not have much time left. The college confirmed that the oxen would be slaughtered and rendered into beef any day now.
“It’s later this month, but I don’t know what the precise date is,” said Coburn.
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