Two steers taken to Morris Frozen Food Locker for processing Monday morning escaped to the streets of Washington Court House, and after police officers attempted to corral them for over an hour the decision was made to “put them down” in the interest of public safety.
Police received a call at 9:09 a.m. that a local farmer was dropping off the two steers to Morris Frozen Food Locker — a meat processing, slaughtering and butchering services plant on Rose Avenue — when the steers were somehow able to get loose.
The steers were spotted multiple times throughout Washington Court House, including on the lawn in front of the courthouse.
“We had about six or seven officers spend a considerable amount of time trying to corral them,” said Washington Police Department Chief Jeff Funari. “Four of our cruisers sustained damage and a couple of residential fences were damaged by the cows. Thankfully, there were no injuries to any civilians and no officers were injured.”
One of the steers went out on Court Street and onto Leesburg Avenue before eventually being found at the golf course, where it was shot and killed. The other went south and eastbound on Temple Street, and many other locations, before it was shot and killed in the 300 block of Lewis Street.
Funari said the decision to shoot the animals was not made until all other possibilities were exhausted — such as finding someone who is trained to utilize a tranquilizer.
“There was no one available within a reasonable amount of time who was trained to do something like that,” said Funari. “It became a public safety concern. I certainly didn’t want these animals running into traffic and causing an accident or trampling someone’s pets. ”
Fayette Regional Humane Society (FRHS) humane agents also responded to where the steers and officers were located throughout the city.
“Officers on the scene inquired about tranquilizing options, however, FRHS humane agents do not currently have the certification for the equipment needed to carry out that process,” FRHS Chief Humane Agent Brad Adams said in a statement. “I also believe attempts were made to others who have the capability but were unsuccessful. After observing one steer running through the downtown area and the five-way intersection near Kroger and the other steer near Columbus Avenue and Wilson Street, which commonly has a high volume of traffic, and the multiple lengthy attempts to contain them, I believe the officers’ action to put the steers down was appropriate to prevent the possibility of serious injury to motorists, any bystanders, and the animals themselves. I am sure it was a difficult decision and not an easy one, but it was necessary with all of the circumstances at the time.
“The Washington C.H. Police Department has offered to help the Fayette Regional Humane Society with the purchase of a tranquilizer gun after certification is obtained for the equipment.”
“We did everything we could to try to get them under control. They were running around everywhere,” said Washington Police Department Lt. Derek Pfeifer, who was one of the officers on the scene attempting to corral the steers. “The last thing you want to do is discharge a weapon out in the public. However, these animals were dangerous and for the preservation of life and property, the decision was made to put them down. Once we were able to get in close range for a shot with no danger of injuring civilians, we went ahead and did it.”
Street department personnel removed the carcasses with a front-end loader. Police are investigating how the steers were able to escape from Morris Frozen Food Locker.
Reach Record-Herald Editor Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.