Animal sanctuary owner charged for refusing to return cows to beef farm
A New York animal sanctuary boss was arrested after she allegedly refused to return some missing cows to their owner.
Tracy Murphy of Asha’s Farm Sanctuary could face up to seven years in prison if convicted after a missing steer and heifer escaped from a nearby farm and ended up on her property.
New York State Police say that troopers visited the sanctuary in Niagara County, New York, on July 25 to retrieve the animals and return them to the farm.
But when they arrived at the sanctuary, Ms Murphy allegedly would not return them to the farmer.
So troopers with a search warrant seized the animals and returned them to the owner of McKee Farms,Scott Gregson, and took Ms Murphy into custody.
The 59-year-old appeared in court shackled and pleaded not guilty to third-degree grand larceny charge. She was then freed from Niagara County Jail.
“I don’t know how they got over there,” said Mr Gregson.
“My fence was secure, the electric was on, and the gates were all closed and there were no hoof prints or droppings so I don’t know how they got over there.”
He says that he initially called Ms Murphy and made arrangements to visit her and collect the animals. But he says when she refused to comply he called the State Police.
“All I wanted was for me to get my cattle back. Obviously, I made a complaint with the state police and they are pressing charges against her. I guess it’s up to the courts at this point,” he added.
Before her arrest, Ms Murphy had offered to pay for the animals and keep them at the sanctuary.
“Where do you think a Sanctuary would release the animals back to slaughter when they found their way here,” Murphy told WKBW. “We’re willing to waive any bordering, and we’re willing to give them top dollar for these animals.”
The incident has attracted the attention of Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix, a vocal animal rights activist, who told The Independent that he hoped Ms Murphy would be treated fairly and praised her “kindness.”
“There was an opportunity here to show compassion and mercy. To allow these peaceful creatures to remain without fear or anticipation of harm for the rest of their lives,” he said in a statement.
“What this merciful opportunity was met with was such a shame. I applaud Tracy for standing her ground in the name of animal liberation.
“To so harshly punish a woman who was simply showing kindness to two individuals who had wandered onto her property is astounding.”