Threats delay GMC oxen slaughteringBy Lucia Suarez
Staff writer | November 01,2012Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Ben Dube, who works on the college farm at Green Mountain College, pats Lou after he stood up last week. Bill is at right, but Lou has the injured back leg.POULTNEY — A pair of oxen that caught the attention of people around the world are still alive, but that does not mean its owners have changed their stance on slaughtering them.
Green Mountain College had committed itself to slaughtering Bill and Lou, the long-serving oxen, by the end of October, but the date has been pushed back. College spokesman Kevin Coburn confirmed the news Wednesday evening, saying the school had not met their original deadline and a new date for the slaughter has not been set.
In a email sent to students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, GMC President Paul Fonteyn said they were not able to meet the timetable to slaughter by the end of the month because several regional slaughterhouses “have been inundated with hostile and threatening emails and phone calls from extremist groups bent on interfering with the processing.”
“These are mostly small, family-oriented Vermont businesses that provide local meat for local consumers,” Fonteyn went on to write in the email. “... many have expressed fears that their operations might be shut down by protesters if they accept the oxen for processing.
Coburn said one of the slaughterhouses they were in contact with reported about 4,500 messages, mostly threatening in nature. He added that this time of year is also very busy for processors and they need to set a schedule in advance.
Fonteyn said in the email they continue to stand behind the decision made by the college community and in the meantime the oxen will not be sent to a sanctuary, but will continue to stay at the college’s farm.
Green Mountain College has recently taken a lot of flak for its decision to slaughter the oxen after Lou sustained a recurring injury this year. Since the news broke early last month, more than 45,000 people from around the world have signed several online petitions in hopes of saving the duo, who have worked at the college for 10 years.
A protest last week attracted almost two dozen people to the college as a last ditch effort to save the 11-year-oxen. Protesters lined up along College Street with signs that read “Save Bill and Lou,” “Mascots not food” and “Respect existence or expect resistance.”
In his email, Fonteyn commended students, faculty and staff who have “demonstrated extraordinary civility in their interactions with each other and with external individuals and organizations.”
The college’s decision has also garnered support from Gov. Peter Shumlin and Chuck Ross, the state’s Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Ross recently issued a statement saying that they applaud the efforts of people working toward community-supported, sustainable, diversified agriculture.
“Here in Vermont ... it is not uncommon for people to raise their own animals for meat or join a meat-CSA. Our culture is closely tied to the food system,” Ross said in the statement. “(GMC) have raised these animals humanely and have made a responsible choice. We encourage others to respect their decision, even if their own personal philosophy includes abstaining from eating meat.”
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