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Cow shooting provokes protest and probe

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Dozens of people showed up today in a peaceful demonstration to protest the police shooting of a pregnant cow at the California State Fair.

Many say that this tragic incident could have been avoided and in fact should never have happened at all.

The cow was shot 11 times and killed Tuesday just before gates were to open in front of vendors like Carolyn Hadin, who videotaped the entire incident on her cell phone. Hadin said she has likely been permanently traumatized by the shooting and fears she will have trouble sleeping for some time.

The cow was scheduled to give birth to her calf in public view, but Jennifer Fearing, the California senior state director for the Humane Society, said
that exhibition birthing should be completely eliminated from such events.

“Expectant mothers don’t want to give birth while having people gawk at them, they need peace and quiet,” she said.

Dr. Ben Normon, the UC Davis veterinarian in charge of livestock at the fair, stated that he and his staff intended to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer gun but it had malfunctioned, forcing him to order fair police to shoot and kill the bovine.

“The problem with tranquilizers is they take 30 to 40 minutes to affect the animal,” Normon said. “Sometimes they get a little wild before they’re tranquilized."

This comment has prompted many animal welfare organizations to ask the question of why didn’t fair officials just delay the opening of the gates to allow for the tranquilizer to take effect?

I asked Dr. John Madigan, an expert in emergency veterinary medicine at UC Davis, via e-mail why that option was not utilized, and he wrote: “The vet was not in charge and has no ability to control gates throughout the facility.”

He went onto say that to his knowledge there is no written or practiced procedure to deal with incidents such as these.

Brian May, deputy director for the State Fair, confirmed that there is indeed no written procedural policies in regards to animals, and that they have already reached out to UC Davis to come up with an emergency response plan for the future.

May said the cow being shot rather than sedated had nothing to do with the delay of opening the gates and more to do with the safety of the unborn calf. However, the situation was unavoidable after the cow charged an officer after being corralled a second time, and left officials with no choice but to use lethal force.

All involved said they had no desire to kill the cow but felt they were left with few options, and all agreed that it is a very sad situation that could have been avoided. 

Sacramento Press Photos|Erin Haight

Erin Haight is a community contributor for the Sacramento Press

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