In the end, Lou met his end in neither a slaughterhouse nor a sanctuary. The Green Mountain College-owned ox, which became the cause célèbre of animal rights advocates across the globe, was euthanized yesterday.
Green Mountain College called off plans to butcher the ox and serve the meat in the school’s dining hall after advocates started pressuring local slaughterhouses.
“Essentially we were forced into euthanasia,” Philip Ackerman-Leist, director of Green Mountain College’s farm and food project, said.
Animal rights activists had “terrorized, called, harassed, made threats of bodily violence and damage to their plants” to every slaughterhouse in the state, as well many in eastern New York and western New Hampshire, Ackerman-Leist explained.
He said the decision was made by a number of Green Mountain College administrators upon hearing a veterinarian’s diagnosis that Lou’s condition would deteriorate during the winter to the point where it would be inhumane to keep him alive.
Ackerman-Leist said he was frustrated that the decision came from behind closed doors. “We went from a situation that was completely transparent to a situation where, because of security concerns, we had to make decisions within a smaller circle.”
Lou and his counterpart, Bill, had worked the fields at the college’s Cerridwen Farm for the last decade, but Lou’s leg injury forced the pair into retirement. Bill, who was also slotted for the slaughterhouse, will now remain on college grounds.
Green Mountain Animal Defenders spearheaded an aggressive effort to dissuade the college from slaughtering the oxen — it circulated an online petition that garnered roughly 50,000 signatures and prompted massive media attention and a deluge of communications urging the college to reconsider. VINE Sanctuary, based in Springfield, Vt., offered to take Lou and Bill in; Green Mountain College declined the offer, maintaining that its decision reinforced the school’s principle of sustainable meat production.
But the college eventually postponed and ultimately scrapped the plan, citing threats that had systematically been made to all regional slaughterhouses.
Pattrice Jones, co-founder of VINE, express doubt that the college’s decision would quell the controversy: “I do have a fear that they think by disappearing Lou they can make this whole controversy go away. I have a feeling that’s not going to be the case.” Jones added that VINE still has concerns about Bill’s well-being and whether or not the euthanization of Lou was warranted.