Vermont News Briefs

Green Mountain College official: Animal rights activists “terrorized” every slaughterhouse in the state

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.

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Alicia Freese

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  • Ironic how Green Mountain College claims animal rights activists trying to save Bill and Lou from suffering horrific deaths are the fanatics.

    Rather than take up the generous offers of sanctuaries that would provide Bill and Lou homes at no cost to the college, they planned to slaughter Bill and Lou and eat them. This would involve Bill and Lou trucked to a slaughterhouse, restrained in a stunning box, stunned with a gun that injects a metal bolt into their brains or electric shocked in the back of their heads, hung upside down by their hind legs and their throats slit to “bleed out.”

    Who are the extremists again?

    Oddly the college is concerned about Lou “suffering” with his injury but had no problem making a decision to allow them to suffer by slaughtering them.

    I question their decision to “euthanize” Lou – was it really warranted or did they merely do it to throw it in the faces of activists? Regardless of what “spin’ the college puts on this tragic story, it will not quash concerns for Bill nor erase the stigma attached to Green Mountain College’s decisions regarding the lives of Bill and Lou.

  • R. E. Sullivan

    First off, I want to ‘applaud’ GMC and Ackerman-Leist for finding the perfect opportunity to evade responsibility for Lou’s death. According to the GMC president, the  animal rights activists had made threats to local slaughterhouses and the school received threats as well, so because of this [obviously]  had NO CHOICE but to euthanize Lou after receiving these threats from the BIG BAD animal rights people. GMC paints the picture that they were the GOOD GUYS all along, and it was these crazy animal right activists who are the BAD GUYS. Ultimately what was the point of all of this for GMC? What was the upside? They managed to group all animal rights activists [such as myself] under one category of irrational extremists. The leaders and academics at GMC managed to BLAME everyone but themselves for this situation. They decided to stick to their beliefs from the start, and believe that they are ultimately correct. This was an ideal scenario of Groupthink: the desire for harmony in THEIR group decision overrode a realistic appraisal of alternatives.

  • shane green

    @Stuart: sensible people do not murder

    • The vast majority of the 50,000 people who signed the petition pleading for the lives of Bill and Lou to be spared made no such threats of violence. GMC is overstating the case and using one or two threats that might have been made to gain sympathy and support.

      By and large, the animal rights community is a peaceful, nonviolent group of gentle, caring, compassionate people. We aim to STOP violence and suffering, not perpetuate it by killing and eating others. Any threats that were made came from those in the minority who feared the worst for Bill and Lou. Who can blame them when our pleas for compassion were ignored? While I don’t condone threats of violence, I understand the frustration that comes of being ignored. Green Mountain College officials ignored our polite letters and emails begging that they show mercy. I wrote three letters myself and received NO reply, but I never threatened anyone. My heart breaks for Lou, who was someone, not something.

  • Mickey Nowak

    Surely all these animal right activists must be aganist abortion. If they are so upset about the killing of an animal then the taking of a human life must really drive them crazy.

  • Terry Ward

    Maybe the moral of the story here is Don’t eat your pets?

    • Terry Ward

      These were.

  • Steven Farnham

    So what is the point of all the anti-slaughter people? Is all slaughter inhumane – or merely the slaughter of these particular oxen? What is so offensive about slaughtering a farm animal and serving it in the college dining hall? Isn’t that what eating local is all about? While a significant percentage of our human population is living in exceedingly inhumane conditions – i.e. in such places as under bridge abutments – a bunch of other people have their shorts in knots over the “inhumane” meat-packing. Go figure.

  • kevin lawrence

    Students could have been encouraged to do an “on-farm” slaughter of the sick beast, like most small farms do every fall. I was butchering and grinding cows late into the night yesterday, which seems far better than putting some lame oxen in a hole someplace. GMC needs to develop its on-site slaughter facility, starting with those unattractive and tasty chickens and turkeys and moving up to steers, goats, and sheep. That would be a well-roounded education in sustainability for small farm advocates.

    • Bob Jones

      That would have been a fantastic idea, Kevin! Unfortunately, it seems like the Farm wanted to sell the meat to the dining hall, thus adhering to the farm to plate initiative for the largest amount of people.

      Also, the Farm currently slaughters animals on-site, but they lack the equipment and certification to handle bovines.

  • David Jentsch
    • Julia MacKenzie MacKenzie

      Oh my goodness what have we got here? A UCLA vivisector who profits of addicting monkeys to methamphetamine not missing one single opportunity to call animal rights activists terrorists! I’m so surprised you can spend the time out of your busy day “finding cures for humanities ills and saving children’s lives” to comment on a the slaughter of ox! You must scour the internet on a daily basis looking for every chance to call us terrorists. Welcome to the PR spin from the real terrorists because Jentsch is definitely one.

  • Kathy Leonard

    An injured farm animal with little chance of recovery is lucky to live at a farm where his suffering is precluded by euthanasia or butchering. All farms face these scenarios and few of them are easy. I’ve seen cows ‘cared for’ beyond common sense only to slowly, miserably, inevitably end up being winched onto the truck to be rendered.

    I would guess that Temple Grandin would have no complaint against GMC.

  • Sandy McCormick

    The Green Mountain Animal Defenders (GMAD) is filled with bullies. Their organization went from a positive message, to one filled militant type aggressiveness. They also have little to no first hand experience of the farming practices they preach against. Their volunteer coordinator grew up in a privileged family, doesn’t work, and had never had been on a farm until she visited one last year and complained about the “smell” and “cow poop” everywhere.

    I’ve heard volunteers/members of the GMAD board verbally attack other local VT businesses – including Gulliver’s Doggie Daycare, Onion River Animal Hospital, Central Vermont Humane Society, Chittenden County Humane Society, the Blue Bird Tavern, and the planned Essex Dog Park – to name a few.

  • So sorry that the reported did not choose to report what else I told her, such as the fact that VINE has contacted campus security about its own concerns, in light of student comments to and about the sanctuary, but has not received even the courtesy of a reply.

    Green Mountain College portrays itself as being an opponent of factory farming but, when facing critique of its own practices, turns right to the playbook of industrial animal agriculture: Call the animal advocates terrorists.

    For information on that all-too-common tactic, see the book and website “Green Is the New Red.”

    • Ben Pierce

      Patrice, Yes animal rights activists are “terrorists”. When you threaten bodily harm and property damage, you have crossed the line of being protestor to being a “terrorists”.

         [ter-uh-riz-uhm] Show IPA
      the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
      the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.

      When the animal rights “activists” left threats on the voice mail of GMC Faculty and staff along with the slaughter houses, they crossed that line.

      • Where is the proof animal advocates did any such thing? You are merely regurgitating GMC spin.

  • Richard Raup

    Was a human or humans actually harmed, or injured? I thought the only living creature destroyed was the ox, which had been offered a free sanctuary for himself and his partner?

  • Kathy Callaghan

    Thank you, Dee, for your apt, if grisly, description of the slaughter process. Looks like the “terrorists” succeeded in obtaining a humane death for this deserving animal.

  • Kimber Leah

    Of course, gmc has again decided to not take responsibility for the actions of thier students, harassing and threatening others. It’s a sad day when a college makes a bad choice and then keeps spinning the story to continually look like they are the victims.
    I amoung many of my friends made thousands of calls, some o tr slaughter houses. None of our calls where threatening or violent. I’m sure a few people inexperienced in voicing thier concerns, could have come across angry. This is a very upsetting situation and not everyone knows how to express thier frustrations. Never the less, I was polite and respectful in all my communications, as where many others. Another bias story.

    • Bob Jones

      A few people “inexperienced in voicing thier[sic] concerns” could have come across angry, indeed.

  • Kelly Stettner

    Hear, hear, Stuart. You want to be a vegan and live your life without harming a living creature? Great; don’t force everyone else to go along with you — terrorist tactics are certainly not the way to win friends and persuade minds. I’m appalled, not just by the threatening phone calls made by the pro-vegan animal rights groups, but by the complete waste of meat when we see so many headlines about hunger in this state.

    I think GMC should open a humane slaughter-house on-site, teaching students the FULL extent of farm life and of being a TRUE local-vore. Respect for the animal is what my good friend Joyce taught us when my daughter and I helped her “process” chickens at her home farm. Humility, care for the animal’s well-being and peace…and meat on the table. Meat that has had a good, healthy life full of love and respect.

    • Your “many headlines about hunger” is a ruse at best. Animal flesh and animal products will NOT feed the hungry–not in any sustainable way. Meat is for the privileged few who can afford such unsustainable luxury.

      Those of us who fight for animal justice do so with a vision and higher goal of obtaining justice for ALL beings who suffer, human and nonhuman alike. Those millions of starving people, those suffering from disease and living in poverty, are interconnected with those billions of animals living in “gulags of despair,” also known as factory farms. In our greed and demand for animal products, we, in the wealthiest nations, take food from the very hands of the poor to feed to billions of animals so we can eat the animals, yes even in these so-called “sustainable” models. Animal agriculture is unsustainable in any shape or form–from factory farms to your happy little farms. The bottom line is we MUST change our eating habits to exclude animal products if the world’s poor and hungry have any hope of survival. Green Mountain College is out of step with reality.

      • Bob Jones

        Janet, you are incorrect. A thousand pounds of beef lay in a hole, poisoned by euthanasia and further poisoning the environment as it decomposes. That’s the take-away lesson, that’s the legacy Animal Rights Advocates have created for themselves.

        • No, you are incorrect. A thousand pounds of a sentient being who valued his life MAY lie somewhere–no one knows for sure what happened to Lou’s body. Billions of pounds of human bodies lie respectfully buried but we don’t rail against the fact that their flesh was wasted or poisoned the environment, which it was and did.

          If I am incorrect about the unsustainability of animal agriculture, then so too must be Worldwatch Institute, an independent research institute devoted to global environmental concerns, AND Albert Einstein, among many others.

          “Albert Einstein, who was better known for his physics and math than for his interest in the living world, once said:
          ‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ We don’t think he was just talking about nutrition. Notice that in this article we haven’t said much at all about the role of meat in nutrition, even though there’s a lot more to talk about than heart disease. Nor have we gone into the ethics of vegetarianism, or of animal rights. The purpose of those omissions is not to brush off those concerns, but to point out that on ecological and economic grounds alone, meat-eating is now a looming problem for humankind. You don’t have to have any conscience at all to know that the age of heavy meat-eating will soon be over as surely as will the age of oil.”

  • Richard Raup

    Yes, it is a shame when food goes to waste and many people go hungry. So many more could be better and more efficiently if only the vegetables had been produced originally for humans and not merely to fatten another poor creature for that purpose.

  • Eric Rosenbloom

    1. Temple Grandin is a paid representative of factory farming.

    2. An 11-year-old ox is not “perfectly good food”. It would likely have been used for dog food with the college receiving some proportion of “human-quality” beef in return.

    3. GMC students are not going hungry.

  • kevin lawrence

    Hey, VT Digger– Can you interview some of these slaughter houses to see what quotes you can get out of them? How were these messages (threats) delivered and what did they actually say? No one has specified anything concrete, here.

  • Right. Green Mountain College students and teachers aimed to EAT Lou, slaughter and EAT a longtime friend who had slaved for them for years. The way they are now boo-hooing over Lou’s untimely death rings hollow at best. Forced to kill Lou indeed! They have some nerve blaming activists, who offered Lou permanent sanctuary, a dignified retirement after years of forced labor, and all the veterinary care he needed, when it was the college that denied Lou medications that would help him heal. They couldn’t let painkillers taint the flesh they aimed to eat. Fifty thousand signatures protesting this unnecessary death. Would they listen? Would they have compassion? Would they take the high road? No, they stuck fast to their stubborn pride.

    Now, they are refusing the same offer of a dignified retirement at a loving sanctuary for Lou’s partner, Bill. Free of charge! And, while Lou is gone, Bill’s fate remains up for grabs. And, I have serious doubts and misgivings. Who can trust GMC after the way they handled the situation with Lou? They claim Bill will “receive care consistent with appropriate livestock practices.” That’s usually code for “we’ll do whatever we darn well please with him, up to and including slaughtering him for low-grade meat, and to heck with what “outsiders” say or think.” Shame on them all!

  • Billybob McGillicuddy

    Well, 1,000,000 animals are killed each and every day in a distinct way. That’s 365,000,000 a year. Who can possibly bear such bloodshed???

    Now I’m positive all of you animal rights activists will surely do what is necessary to stop the needless, senseless killing. Right?

    Ok, then. No more motor cars. No public transportation. Walking ONLY. Yup, not even flying (birds).

    If you do not immediately give up your cars and trucks, you’re all full of sh*t.

  • Frank DAVIS

    If we don’t eat these domesticated animals we don’t need them. If we don’t need them we don’t breed them. if we were all vegan they would become extinct or feral. If they became feral they would eat our gardens and fields and we would have to kill them as nuisances. Vegans are prescribing the extinction of domesticated species. BTW what do vegans feed their fluffy pet kittys? Carrots or oxen?

    • Michael Piling

      There you go! You figured it out all by yourself-you just stopped global warming…Yay!

  • Good decision to put “terrorized” in quotes in your headline as opposed to Ackerman-Leist’s usage of the word.

  • Heather Alexander

    Okay people. Let’s get back to the real issue. GMC could give Bill a break for service rendered and allow him freedom. Thus far it has not happened. Animal lovers around the globe are demanding justice. They are well informed of the facts. So I have to wonder why the rigid and patronizing posture from GMC? Get real. The negative perception will outlive Lou and Bill.

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