A group of Seneca College students met with faculty members Wednesday afternoon, after they say their plan to purchase four cows up for auction was thwart by the school.
The students wanted to purchase the cows and transfer them to a farm sanctuary.
“We adopt out all of our cats, dogs, and rodents at the end of the year,” Erika Landry, a student at Seneca, explained.
“Everybody finds a home, and for the calves it’s just been the way it is, that they go to slaughter.”
Landry, a first-year student in the schools Veterinary Technology program, said she was told by staff to form an organization in order to purchase Bambi, Huey, Chester and Pongo at an upcoming auction.
The Student Organization for Animal Rights was created and through crowdfunding the group raised $3,000 within two months.
The group hoped to attend the auction to make the purchase.
However, Landry said the date had changed because the cows were entered in a new weight class.
“It happened immediately and they were sold pretty well immediately, so before we even knew that they had been entered in a new class, they had already been sold,” Landry said.
“(The college) did not want to let us purchase the cows outright, which is what we’re trying to change. They insisted, you have to go to the auction, you have to blend in and you have to bid against all these farmers and we accepted that.”
The college said the calves, along with the other animals on site at Seneca’s Animal Health Facility, are used for educational and training purposes, and are well-cared for.
Program Coordinator Emma Brown said they can’t keep cows as they grow into adulthood and the animals end up going back into the food production stream, where they came from.
“We wouldn’t do an on the spot in visual sale to the students, that’s not part of our practices,” Brown explains.
“We have a lot of regulations that we have to adhere to, so in adherent to those, it isn’t something we would do.”
Brown said she’s disappointed things turned out this way for the group.
“They knew when they were leaving, they just weren’t at the auction to buy the cows, so that’s unfortunate for them,” Brown said.
“We know that they’re very disappointed. They did everything right so we’re disappointed for them too.”
As for who the cows were sold to, the college said they’re not privy to that information.
The townhall was initially organized to address the students’ concerns and have a discussion on the school’s policies.
Landry, who applauds the school for having this discussion, wants to keep an open line of communication to encourage a change in policy. She wants the school to consider different alternatives to selling animals only at auctions.
“How can we change this next year, so we don’t have to go to auction?” Landry wants to know.
“They are cows we care for and we can bring transport to the school and bring them to sanctuary. We just don’t want to jump through so many hoops if we don’t have to, and it benefits the school not at all to make us go to auction.”
Landry said the money that was raised for the purchase of the cows will now be donated to the farm sanctuary.