Cow That Escaped Meatpacking Plant Finds Sanctuary

By BEN DOBBIN, Associated Press Writer

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - A cow that escaped from a Cincinnati meatpacking plant and ran free in a city park for 10 days will graze out her days in a bucolic setting in upstate New York.

The cow, named Cinci Freedom, was being transported Thursday to Farm Sanctuary, an animal asylum in the Finger Lakes region that provides lifelong care to more than 1,500 animals rescued from factory farms, stockyards and slaughterhouses.

She will live in a spacious, straw-filled barn and have 175 acres of green pasture to roam.

"Most of the time, we're the ones saving the animals," said the group's executive director, Lorri Bauston. "Of course, in this case, Cinci Freedom saved herself."

The 7-year-old cow, a 1,100-pound Charolais, jumped a 6-foot fence in February to elude slaughter. In tracking her down, authorities searched a 57-acre Cincinnati park by foot, Jeep and helicopter, left out hay and even brought in other cows to lure the runaway.

She was eventually tranquilized and captured by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Animal-welfare activists then stepped forward to guarantee her a new home. Artist Peter Max, a member of Farm Sanctuary, offered to donate paintings expected to fetch $180,000 at auction to help in the expansion of the Cincinnati-area animal society.

On April 1, the cow was presented with a key to the city of Cincinnati. However, she was kept out of a parade for the start of the baseball season when she became too balky and had to be tranquilized a second time.

Farm Sanctuary, a not-for-profit group based in Watkins Glen, also runs a farm in California and boasts 90,000 members. Its shelter in Watkins Glen, which sits at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, attracted about 11,000 visitors last year.

"The animals serve as animal ambassadors, to help teach people that cows and other farm animals have feelings too and need kindness and compassion like any animal," Bauston said. "They're not used for production and they'll basically live out their lives here."

The cow was being trucked in by Dennis Dowers, a farmer who helped capture her.

"When he was taking care of her, he was becoming quite attached to Cinci," Bauston said. "He mentioned to me, 'Boy, what a spirit she has.' It's great when people do see cows as individual animals. It's at least a good first step toward treating them humanely."

The group's legislative campaigns focus in part on delivering humane standards at mammoth agribusiness farms. About nine billion farm animals, most of them chickens, are slaughtered in the United States each year, Bauston said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)