Two cows that went missing from a cattle farm in Newfane, Niagara County, were found by an animal sanctuary president, who is now being accused of modern-day cow rustling.
Blackie and Hornee, so named by the original owner’s children, are currently living at Asha’s Farm Sanctuary, which is offering “top dollar” to keep the animals.
Renamed by the sanctuary as Little Willow and Ishmael, the cows were heading towards woodland when president Tracy Murphy stumbled upon them. She took them with her out of fear that they would “be lost forever and get injured.”
Rescue or rustling?
Upon finding the cows, Murphy called the SPCA to inform them. She revealed that she had found them on sanctuary property and had taken them further in, to keep them safe.
Two weeks after they went missing, the SPCA informed the original owner, Scott Gregson, where they were.
A beef farmer, Gregson claims that he noticed the animals were missing on July 16 but could not identify how they got out. No holes were found and the electric fence was operational.
He approached Murphy to collect the animals but was asked if the sanctuary could buy them instead. Gregson is unwilling to have a discussion about selling them prior to having the cows in his possession.
Having reached a stalemate, residents of Newfane have taken it upon themselves to demonstrate for the cows’ release outside the Asha Sanctuary. Homemade placards can be seen throughout the town, accusing Murphy of cattle rustling.
Why the sanctuary isn’t backing down
Murphy claims that legal ownership of the two cows has not been ascertained, only alleged. Neither animal has a tag, though Spectrum News 1 reports that a sanctuary worker claims to have seen at least one of them with a tag when they first arrived.
Asha’s Farm Sanctuary is currently home to around 50 animals that were rescued from slaughter. Murphy sees their relocation as a chance to live longer, happier lives.
Cows have a natural lifespan of around 20-25 years but those in the beef industry are typically slaughtered after two or three. Dairy cows are commonly killed for meat at around six years old, or when they stop producing milk, whichever comes first.
“They never get to live out their whole lives. They have short lives. Very, extremely short lives,” she told Spectrum News 1.
She continued: “It’s a violent, horrible death and they want to live. They’re kids. They love. They have fun.”
The case continues
Murphy maintains that she has the right to keep the cows at Asha’s Farm Sanctuary and is still willing to talk with Gregson about an amicable resolution. However, the case is now being formally investigated.
Gregson has offered no further comment other than to say: “We’re in the country. Cattle do get out and that’s a fact of life being a farmer. When it happens, we take care of each other.”
He has since taken all of his livestock out of the county due to mounting “safety and security concerns.”