Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After a Great Escape in North St. Louis, the Fate of Six Heifers Remains in Question

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

After a Great Escape in North St. Louis, the Fate of Six Heifers Remains in Question

Article excerpt

The specific fate of six heifers that gained national prominence after breaking out of a north St. Louis slaughterhouse was unclear Friday night, but they apparently won't meet their end at the slaughterhouse they escaped from a day earlier.

The heifers led St. Louis police and others on pursuits that stretched over five hours and included charging through a wrought iron fence at a Catholic group residence home and escaping a corral of moving police cruisers. When the last one was finally trapped and led onto a livestock trailer, it was in front of dozens of onlookers who over the course of her romp dubbed her Chico and cheered for her escape.

On Friday, that heifer was thought to be on her way to an undisclosed family farm in Lincoln County. Kelly Manno, a rescue organizer, said the heifer's safety was ensured and her future secure. But late Friday, Manno was told in a text from the owner of the slaughterhouse that all six cattle were going elsewhere. He did not say where.

Another would-be rescuer was also left in the dark Friday about the cattle's fate. Adam Brewer of Chicago raised more than $10,000 through his separate crowd-funding effort to help the six escaped animals.

"All the money is still there. It's not being touched. It's not being used. It's strictly there for the initial purpose: to give to a legitimate non-for-profit," Brewer said.

But like Manno, he didn't know Friday night what had become of the cattle.

He said slaughterhouse owner Omar Hamdan had told him all six cattle would be going to a farm in Hillsboro. But that was unconfirmed.

"He stopped communicating with people," Brewer said.

The Post-Dispatch was also unable to reach Hamdan on Friday night.

Brewer said that if he hadn't heard from Hamdan by Saturday morning, he planned to enlist a larger audience to demand answers. "At this point if the cows aren't located and intentions explained I'll reach out to national media," he said.

The fate of the heifers was the subject of much debate and hand-wringing among crowd-funders trying to buy their safety and the national group Farm Sanctuary, which tries to negotiate rescues of escaped slaughterhouse animals, but, on principal, refuses to pay for their freedom.

Manno, a quasi radio personality, was watching her social media feeds fill up with news Thursday afternoon that cattle were running amok in the urban streets, playgrounds and parking lots of urban north St. Louis after slipping away from the Star Packing Co. in the 3800 block of Cote Brilliante Avenue.

As the cattle were captured, one by one, Manno took note of the one that kept getting away the one who had been given the outlaw name Chico.

Manno, who classifies herself as an animal lover, said she thought it would be fun to document the escape and "cheer on the cow."

She also thought it would be fun to don her dinosaur costume for the event, because, hey, the whole thing was a spectacle anyway. …

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