Oxen team Bill and Lou have been beloved hard workers at the Green Mountain College farm for 10 years.
"They would plow and cultivate, and spread their manure and the manure of other animals," said Ben Dube, a research assistant.
The oxen are part of the farm's plan to be fossil-free. Instead of tractors, Bill and Lou do the work. But this summer, Lou suffered an injury and can barely walk. And Bill can't pull the plow alone.
"Doing any work with them is a question. Even putting them in the yoke and not pulling anything," Dube said.
The school already bought replacements, but kept Bill and Lou as pets until they could collaborate with the students, who were on summer break, about Bill and Lou's fate.
"Because it is an educational, sustainable farm, we think we've got to help students understand how to make farms work ecologically, socially and economically," said Bill Throop, the provost at Green Mountain College.
The consensus: to slaughter Bill and Lou for meat. This would save the school from purchasing meat from a factory for at least a month.
"I feel like it's better for us-- everyone else, since I'm a vegetarian-- to eat a happy animal. It was happy its entire life; to know that it had a good life," said Meghan Mitchell, a freshman.
"In general I think most students think that this is the right way to go," said Harrison Rhodes, a senior.
That's why many on campus were surprised to hear that a new internet petition to stop the slaughtering and send the pair to an animal sanctuary instead has gathered over 4,000 signatures.
"They jumped on one or two facts, took them facts to the edge and didn't really consider the entire situation," said Ernie Kelppeis, a senior.
The petition was created by Green Mountain Animal Defenders, a Vermont nonprofit, but many of the signatures are from other countries like Italy, the UK, even Albania and Belgium.
"Those people that are signing that don't really have the same understanding that's gone through with Bill and Lou," Rhodes said. "There's been a lot of discussion from the farm crew and the whole campus community."
Throop, who is also an expert in animal ethics, says this situation highlights farming's dilemmas, but the petition is not making him change his mind.
"Really the motivator is how do we educate well? And we think educating about the moral complexities is a part of educating about how to run a sustainable farm," he said.
Throop says he believes this is a situation where it's OK for reasonable people to disagree, but he feels the right decision for his school was made.
About 70 percent of GMC's students eat meat.
Officials say the slaughter will happen sometime later this month.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:43 PM EDT2014-03-10 02:43:23 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:56:33 GMT
Flags were flying on the Statehouse steps Sunday afternoon as more than 500 people gathered for the Gun Owners of Vermont Rally."Vermonters -- not just hunting Vermonters who happen to have firearms forMore >>
A trio of gun control measures may have gotten the green light from Burlington voters on Town Meeting Day, but the charter changes face strong opposition across the state, and a possible uphill battle at the Statehouse.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:43:32 GMT
Is the marketing behind Electronic Cigarettes aimed at kids?New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) says the industry's trendy packaging and flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy aren't foolingMore >>
Schumer is co-sponsoring a Senate bill that would ban e-cigarette marketing aimed at kids.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:42:02 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.Members of the so-called Senate Climate Action Task Force -- nearly two dozen in allMore >>
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:40 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:40:46 GMT
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.The owner of the home on Pike Drive called for help a little after 9:30 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived theyMore >>
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:38:52 GMT
Jazz fingers, dance moves -- and plenty of passion. The Urban Reach Dance Convention is giving aspiring dancers the chance to learn from some of the music industry's most acclaimed teachers, who have workedMore >>
Aspiring dancers hit the floor this weekend at the 8th annual Urban Reach Dance Convention.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 6:08 PM EDT2014-03-09 22:08:59 GMT
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County. CCTA officials told us in a statement that after 19 hours of negotiations that went into the morningMore >>
Sunday morning CCTA officials announced that after a marathon negotiation session they delivered a complete contract proposal to the union.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 2:52 PM EDT2014-03-09 18:52:05 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend. His office says the Governor was at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. He is expected toMore >>
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend.More >>