NEWFANE, N.Y. – When will the cows come home? Not yet, as there is a beef brewing between a farmer and an animal sanctuary in upstate New York.
Earlier this month, a cow and a steer found their way to Asha’s Farm Sanctuary in Newfane, owner Tracy Murphy told WIVB-TV. Scott Gregson, who owns McKee Farms nearby, said the cows belong to him.
Murphy said the cows, whom she named Little Willow and Ishamel, wandered into the sanctuary on July 16, WKBW-TV reported. Murphy told the television station that she called SPCA the same day.
“The alleged owner called me about a week later after the report from SPCA,” Murphy told WKBW. “I talked to the owner, and I said, ‘You know we really love these animals. They’re so sweet and have become attached. We’d like to work something out with you.’”
Gregson said that when he went to feed his cattle, he noticed two were missing.
“We were advised by an SPCA investigator that they were located in an animal sanctuary in town,” Gregson, who has been raising beef cattle for nearly a decade, told WKBW. “I do know where they’re at, but I can’t comment on the case any further. I’ve been advised not to.”
Murphy and Gregson spoke with one another on July 22, according to the Union-Sun & Journal of Lockport. Murphy insisted that Gregson would need to show proof of ownership.
Three days later, Gregson visited the animal sanctuary with members of his family and state troopers and asked for the cattle, according to the newspaper. Murphy allegedly refused, stating that authorities would need a warrant, and reiterated that Gregson needed documentation.
Murphy’s attorney agreed.
“Before we can talk about what can be done with these cattle, we need to see proof of ownership,” Matthew Albert told the Union-Sun & Journal. “That’s a threshold issue, and I reiterated numerous times that before I could even conceive of advising my client to give these cattle to this individual, I need to see proof of ownership to make sure that they are going to their rightful owner. I haven’t been shown that.”
Gregson said his children are wondering when the cattle will come back home.
“We raise them to butcher, but during the process, they’re here for two years. So you do get attached to them,” Gregson told WKBW. “We do pet them and my kids gave them very generic names, Blacky and Horny, because one has horns.”
Local farmers are siding with Gregson in this cattle controversy.
“It should’ve been given back to the owner,” Nancy Fawcett, who owns a nearby farm, told WIVB. “Other people have had cows or horses get loose and people make sure they get back where they belong and stuff, and why she kept them, beyond me. That just didn’t make any sense; that’s not what you do.”
“I hope it teaches people a lesson not to mess with farmers,” another farmer, Ed Petitt, told the television station while holding a sign in front of the sanctuary. “I’ll tell you that much. This is ridiculous. This is people’s livelihood, it’s food on the table. It’s food to feed their families. This isn’t right.”
Murphy said she hopes the two parties can resolve the situation.
“How could anyone expect that we would hand over the animals when we feel we’re in our legal right, right now, to hang on to these animals?” Murphy told WIVB. “And we’re a sanctuary. We don’t want to hand over these animals that are going to go into slaughter.”
Murphy said she was trying to be reasonable and is willing to waive any boarding fees and pay Gregson top dollar for the cattle.
“This isn’t something that we have to do,” she told the Union-Sun & Journal. “It’s something that we’re willing to do to keep the animals safe so they never have to go to slaughter.”
As for Gregson, he just wants Murphy to steer his cattle back to him.
“That’s all we want,” he told WKBW. “We didn’t know it was going to go this far. All we want is our cattle back home.”