Vegan Animal Sanctuary Owner Charged With Stealing Cows From Neighboring Farm
Earlier this month, a vegan animal sanctuary owner in Newfane, New York, was arrested for grand larceny, a felony. The charges against the upstate sanctuary owner are rather unusual: police allege she stole a pair of cows from a neighboring beef farmer.
The controversy began when two cows from a herd owned by farmer Scott Gregson, who owns McKee Farm in Newfane, went missing on July 15.
“I don’t understand how they got out because the fence was intact, gates were closed and the [electric fence] charger was working,” Gregson told Lancaster Farming.
When Gregson later learned the pair were at the neighbor’s animal sanctuary, a half mile down the road, he asked sanctuary owner Tracy Murphy to return them.
“She asked if I had proof I was the owner, then told me to get off her property because I was trespassing,” Gregson told USA Today.
“How could anyone expect that we would hand over the animals when we feel we’re in our legal right, right now, to hang on to these animals?” asked Asha’s Farm Sanctuary owner Murphy, in comments reported by station WIVB last month. “And we’re a sanctuary. We don’t want to hand over these animals that are going to go into slaughter.”
Instead, Murphy offered to buy the cows. Gregson declined. A standoff of sorts ensued.
Police visited Murphy in July, they say, and asked her to return the cows. She did not do so.
As the WIVB report also details, neighbors rallied in support of Gregson—by all reports an exemplary farmer—even protesting outside Asha’s Farm Sanctuary. Neighbor Nancy Fawcett told the station that livestock occasionally get loose in farming communities, and to seize that livestock instead of returning the animals to their rightful owner “just didn’t make any sense, that’s not what you do.”
“Nothing against [Murphy], what she does, her business, and what she chooses to do for the good of injured and helping other animals,” said another neighbor, Laurie Andrews-Skinner. “But in this case, she’s stolen two cows and she needs to give them back to the rightful owner.”
“The message was simple,” said local farmer Ed Pettitt Sr., who organized a protest outside Asha’s in support of Gregson. “It was: Do not steal [or] violate the livestock rights of our farmers. The other side tried to make it about eating meat, veganism, that’s not what the issue is.”
Police agreed. Earlier this month, they returned to Asha’s F
Article from Reason.com