Lost longhorn shot after charging deputy

KINGSTON —For nearly four hours Monday afternoon a cow which had escaped from her trailer at the Kingston ferry dock parking lot kept the Washington State Patrol, Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies, the Department of Wildlife and even her rope toting owner at bay. She sharpened her horns on trees and ran randomly wild through the downtown streets after escaping at about 12:30 p.m.

“She was all over the place,” Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Mike Merrilll said.

As a number of law enforcement officers worked to corral the large longhorn, good-natured banter from bystanders became irate accusations when a deputy fired a shot that wounded the animal.

Comments such as “I’m going to the store to get the corn, potatoes and A-1 sauce,” lost all their humor when the cow’s carcass, lodged with two tranquilizer darts, a 12-gauge shotgun shell and a lethal dose of phenobarbital was hauled away.

Shooting the cow was the deputy’s only option, Merrill said.

“From my point of view, it looked like it was coming straight at him,” Merrilll said about colleague John Sandberg, who shot the charging longhorn cow.

“What do you do? When (she) rushed the deputy there was nothing else we could do,” Merrilll said.

The cow, running at the officer, was unfazed by two tranquilizer darts fired earlier. One hit its mark, but the other bounced off the cow’s rump.

The crowd of 50 or so people that witnessed the cow caused chaos questioned the means to the animal’s untimely end.

“It was just scared. I think they dealt with it wrong,” said a bystander named Dawn. She and others shouted expletives and accused sheriff’s deputies of cruelty after the shot rang out.

After being shot by the deputy, the injured cow dashed across four lanes of incoming ferry traffic and settled in a grassy area behind the Holding Lane Pub. Two tranquilizer darts were injected by Kitsap County Humane Society workers.

At the owner’s request, Ken Feigner of Sound Equine veterinary services administered a lethal dose of anesthesia to the animal.

The cow had no name. Her age and weight were estimates. From Quilcene, she was on her way to an auction because she craved freedom.

Described by her owners as “pretty wild” the full-grown cow tore down too much fencing and wore down their patience. Neither Joe Bartlett or his family would comment on the day’s events.

The heifer’s final flight is sure to become part of Kingston’s eccentric collection of “remember whens.”

The afternoon’s events began when Pam Roth and her friend Susan Morrison were crossing Hwy. 104 from lunch at Drifters to Northstar when they saw the back door of the trailer open and the front of the longhorn staring at them.

“I was trying to get the driver’s attention,” Roth said, demonstrating how she stood in front of the cow with arms waving. Her commands for the heifer to “stay there” and “whoa” were fruitless.

Roth and her friend dodged between two cars as the cow bolted.

Devon Schefano, 16, joined a group who were nearly successful at getting the beast to stay in one spot. But nearly, in this case, was not good enough. He leaped in the back of a pickup truck avoiding the cow’s charge.

The cow was attracted a wooded area at the corner of West Kingston and Central. Her tempestuous travels then included the road construction site borders, a trip down to the beach and vacationing residents’ front yard.

Had the story ended differently, Kingston’s Edward Jones employees could tell their customers it was a might be a bullish year. A neighbor could chuckle at the Washington State Patrol’s suggestion to take himself and the red sweater he was wearing back inside. A running of the bull, even though it was a cow, joke could wind its way through North Kitsap. And tall tales to rival Paul Bunyon’s Babe would spill from the imaginations of people who were in the cow’s path.

The sheriff’s office is not pursuing an investigation on the cow’s escape, Merrill said.

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