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Kingston cow chase leaves behind a trail of questions

KINGSTON — Much like the cow rampaging though Kingston streets Monday, reactions to the animal’s death run in all directions.

“It’s out of control,” said the cow’s owner who requested her name not be used.

People have already left insulting messages on her family’s answering machine, adding to the embarrassment and humiliation they already feel.

“We just want it to go away,” she said.

The Quilcene resident’s cow bolted from its trailer while the owners waited in line at the Kingston ferry ticket booth. The cow, according to reports, chased a motorcyclist and a dog before settling in a wooded area at Central and West Kingston. Animal control officers administered tranquilizer darts, which had no effect on the estimated 800- pound cow. She then charged a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy who fired his shotgun at the animal, hitting her in the shoulder area.

The wounded cow ran across four lanes of oncoming traffic on Highway 104 and settled in a grassy area. A Poulsbo vet later put the cow down.

“There’s nothing good about this situation at all,” the cow’s owner said.

From anonymous mourners who suspended a bouquet of flowers from a street sign near where the cow died, to people airing their outrage on radio and television, the incident has ignited a debate about where to draw the line between protecting human life and upholding an animal’s rights.

“At the boundaries of human-animal interaction, human society must decide how to humanely and intelligently deal with potential crises,” said Adam Karp, a Seattle animal-rights attorney. He said people should think of an animal such as this cow as a very young child or insane person, with no mental capacity to tell right from wrong.

“In this case, the cow was scared when corralled. She responded like most any cow in that situation might. Should she have had to be shot and die prematurely because the deputies miscalculated and, perhaps due to their impatience and inexperience, failed to acknowledge her sentiments and instincts?” Karp asks.

Lt. Ned Newlin of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office said the deputy who wounded the cow acted within the policies of the department.

“He had to step out of the way to keep from being run over by the animal,” Newlin said.

“They’re about protecting people and what they do, not going out and rounding up cows,” Lynne E. Moss commented about the actions of the sheriff’s deputies. The Seattle resident watched the events unfold on television.

Moss, who has been active with Progressive Animal Welfare Society and helped get more stringent animal cruelty penalties on the books, was appalled at what she saw.

Hilary Renaissance, an animal communicator based in Seattle, said she spoke with the cow after it died.

The biggest message that came to her was anxiety, she said. Although the cow’s anxiety is an obvious conclusion, she said it points to a larger issue.

“Cows would like people to know they don’t like the way they are being treated,” she said.

Earlier this year a cow escaped from a Cincinnati meat processing plant and ran through the city for three weeks becoming the object of affection and foundation for radio gimmicks such as “moosama bin laden.” The hornless Cincinnati cow was captured without incident.

The situation in Kingston was different in several respects, according to Newlin. Deputies were called to the scene because the escape took place on a public road and the public’s safety was endangered, Newlin said.

Ironically the cow’s owners were taking the cow to auction because they feared she would break through their fence, which she seemed determined to do, and end up on Highway 101.

“She was always just a mellow cow. After she lost a calf, she became very aggressive,” her owner said.

“She was just not the same cow.”

It had required three people to load the cow into the trailer.

“We are kicking ourselves, If we just could have checked it (the lock) one more time,” she said.

She is sympathetic to the animal activists’ outcries and the deputy’s actions.

“I believe the sheriff’s deputy was not a gun-happy man who shot the cow because he wanted to,” she said. “He did it to protect human life.”

Moss maintains that all life forms should be treated with equal regard.

“Whether humans, animals or trees we all have a life force,” she said.

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