News that Milford’s wayward cow, Wanda, was finally captured last week ignited over concern for the heifer’s future.
"There is no chance that the cow is going to be slaughtered," said .
Wanda, the young, black Angus cow which escaped from a farm in Orange, turned up in Milford last summer hanging out with a herd of deer near Gulf Pond.
A team of animal control officers and animal rescuers finally corralled it last Wednesday evening, subdued with a tranquilizer dart and transported it to a farm in Oxford.
That wasn’t satisfactory for a handful of bloggers, who warned that the cow would end up on dinner plates if it stayed at that farm. They questioned why George didn’t allow an animal sanctuary organization to take the cow to a farm it runs in upstate New York instead.
George said none of that is true. State Department of Agriculture officials who found a home for the animal assured him it would live out its life peacefully at the farm in Oxford, he said. He said keeping the cow in Connecticut avoided the expense of veterinary tests required if it were moved across the state line.
He also defended himself for refusing to identify the farm where the cow was taken, out of a concern that it might make the farmer a target for animal rights activists.
"I’m sorry they want to know where it’s going," George said. "It’s none of their business where it’s going."
George said he had offers months ago from farms offering to take the animal, but turned them down because those farms slaughter cattle.
"I’m fine with that," said Susie Coston, national shelter director for the farm animal rescue organization, Farm Sanctuary, in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
But Coston said George’s critics were reacting to his lack of transparency. "Most people are inclined to believe the worst sometimes," she said. "There is a paranoia that because they are being secretive, there must be something wrong."
She said Farm Sanctuary attempted to contact Milford Animal Control months ago, but Rick George refused to return their telephone calls. Unlike the farm in Oxford, animal rights advocates know and trust Farm Sanctuary, she said.
"I think that’s why people wanted the animal to come here, because they know we have a good reputation," Coston said.
Farm Sanctuary operates a 175 acre farm near Watkins Glen where Wanda would have been comfortable living with other cows. The organization also has a 300 acre farm in central California and a small petting farm near Los Angeles.
Tom and Kathy Ferraro, who fed the cow for months and helped animal control officers to catch it, are among Rick George’s defenders. Tom said he and his wife did not want the cow to go to a slaughterhouse, and they trust George’s word that she won’t.
"As far as my wife and I are concerned, we’re totally happy with the outcome," he said.