Contrary to what you wrote in your Nov. 10 editorial “Doomed oxen: A lesson in sustainability,” I don’t believe that the “simple fact” that “squealing pigs, clucking chickens, and bleating sheep are not pets” has eluded any students at Green Mountain College. They apparently have been raising these animals for food for years.
However, their oxen Bill and Lou were raised as working animals. They were socialized and trained from a young age to till the fields and pull heavy loads, and to learn from and respond to the directions of the students. They were given names, as are other working animals, such as a horse or hunting dog.
I applaud students’ efforts to reward their oxen’s years of service with a peaceful retirement. Provost William Throop said, “Our choice is either to eat the animals that we know have been cared for and lived good lives or serve the bodies of nameless animals we do not know.” I hope he will realize that, as human beings, our responsibilities to the animals we raise — and the students we try to teach — are more complex than those two simple choices.