Every once in a while, an impressive, animal-related "news of the weird" piece will hit the headlines and somehow I miss it. So it was with last Wednesday’s story on the pregnant, Northern California cow who escaped her enclosure and easily evaded capture by the hands of the inexperienced law enforcement personnel who attended the event.
If ever there was an example of how far humanity has become unfortunately divorced from its food source, it’s right here, on video, before they shot said cow to death for doing little more than being a difficult-to-catch beast of burden who "trampled" a bicycle.
Sure, she was doubtless interfering with the day’s events, seeing as the doors to the State Fair (scheduled to open imminently) would have to remain closed until she was safely corralled. This is presumably why the frustrated veterinarian, who was unable to either, 1) catch the cow quickly, or 2) effectively dart her with a tranquilizer gun, made the call to "shoot her."
This gravid and placid Holstein cow was just doing her thing. You want me in one spot? she may have been thinking. Well … I don’t prefer the likes of you (my temporary handlers) so I’ll just scoot on over to where I feel more comfortable.
In no way was she threatening anyone. After all, she’s a Holstein! This breed of cattle is bred specifically for extremes of cud-chewing placidity all of us associate with "dumb cows." This one, however, was apparently too smart for a bunch of rent-a-cops and one University of California of Davis faculty member, who (apparently) couldn’t make a calm decision in the face of such a dire emergency — or, for that matter, hit the broad side of a bovine with his dart gun.
Not that he needed one. Not by a long stretch. As some of my cattle-oriented colleagues opined (while I was at the American Veterinary Medical Convention over this past weekend), a lowly bit of rope would have sufficed. Maybe even a looped-on-itself dog leash.
So when the "cops" asked, "Can we shoot it, Doc?" the only acceptable answer should have been, "Why? She’s just a cow. It may take a while, but we’ll catch her." Instead, the frustration of the moment led to a literal hail of bullets.
What were they thinking?
For the life of me I’ll never understand this scenario. Suffice to say, I believe heads should roll in retribution for one blameless cow’s death (not to mention the death of her unborn calf, whom no one thought to mercifully deliver by C-section in the aftermath) at the hands of nothing less than extremely clueless humans.
Sometimes I think 4-H should be a mandatory course in junior high. Maybe then we’d live in a nation of people who don’t cower at the thought of chasing down a pregnant cow so she can deliver her calf in peace, even if it does have to happen at the State Fair … for the edification of the public, of course.
Will the ironies inherent to this storyline never cease?
Dr. Patty Khuly