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When most Angelenos think about animals living in their midst, they think of dogs and cats, pigeons and squirrels, perhaps the occasional pet snake. They don’t generally think of farm animals.
Earlier this summer, however, a baby cow was rescued from outside an apartment building in West Hollywood, where it was tied to a post, separated from a Pit Bull by a shopping cart.
A local resident called Animal Acres, a farm animal sanctuary, which took the calf back to its base in Escondido, where he was christened “Cowboy”.
“There are a lot of country critters in Los Angeles,” said Lorri Houston, founder of Animal Acres. “We get calls all the time.”
For instance, Houston said she once rescued a small cow who had been tied to a post in the front yard of a fraternity house. That calf, she said, had been stolen by one of the fraternity brothers from a farm in Kansas, where he lived, and driven from there to Los Angeles.
But it is not clear how “Cowboy” ended up outside the apartment in West Hollywood. Because the calf appeared to be in poor health—he was two weeks old, Houston said, very skinny, and he’d had a bowl of water set beside him, even though he was too young to drink from it on his own—Animal Acres seized the animal without trying to find its owner.
“When we respond to calls, we seize the animals, no questions asked,” Houston said. “They’ve usually been obtained illegally. There’s often cruelty involved, so the owners don’t usually come to claim the animals.”
Because of the nearby Pitt Bull, Houston hypothesized that the calf might have been used to train fighting dogs. She said owners of fighting dogs will often buy young cows from auctions in Chino, and use them for roping practice.
On the other hand, Frank Allen, the Animal Acres farm manager who went to rescue Cowboy, suggests that perhaps the cow was going to be used as part of a ritual sacrifice. He said reports of goat sacrifices in the area are prevalent, and the calf was too small to have been intended for a barbeque.
No one at Animal Acres would divulge the exact location where Cowboy had been found, only that it was in the City of West Hollywood. Allen said a team of private investigators was looking into the incident, and they trying to get the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department involved.
The Sheriff’s Department said they had no record of the incident. The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control did not return calls for comment.
Both Allen and Houston also said that it was very difficult to prosecute people for cruelty to farm animals, whatever they were being used for.
“You can’t really go after anyone for animal sacrifices,” Allen said. “For example, at Yom Kippur, observant Jews wring chickens’ necks. The only way we’re able to go after them is if blood is leaking from the trash onto the sidewalk.”
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