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Cows escape slaughterhouse, run amok in California neighborhood

SF Gate logo SF Gate 6/23/2021 Andrew Chamings
a close up of a cow © Bloomberg Creative/Getty Images/Bloomberg Creative

Los Angeles chopper footage has made history over the years for its many infamous live chases. But this week the focus of news cameras wasn't a white bronco, but a herd of cows. 

The 40 animals' short-lived bid for freedom ended in bovine tragedy for one of the escapees, and minor injuries to a family that were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The cows escaped a nearby slaughterhouse Tuesday night and wandered into a residential Los Angeles County neighborhood. While initially the animals were happily gathered in a cul-de-sac and chewing the cud on a neighbors' lawn, things got ugly after sundown.

The cows were reported running loose on the streets of Pico Rivera around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday after a gate at a meat packing facility was accidentally left open, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The herd made its way to the neighborhood about a mile away. At least seven vehicles arrived as deputies attempted to keep the cows together while waiting for the department’s mounted enforcement detail to arrive with horse trailers.

That's when one cow charged at four members of an unidentified family, knocking them to the ground and causing minor injuries. A sheriff's deputy shot and killed the cow to protect the family from further injury, the sheriff's department said. The family members were taken to a hospital for treatment.

Pico Rivera City Manager Steve Carmona told KTLA that at one point he had to jump onto a car to get out of the way of the herd. “It was a pretty scary ordeal,” he said.

The sheriff's mounted patrol unit eventually arrived to help recapture and transport the animals.

“Of the forty, thirty-eight were safely captured, one was shot, and one has not been located,” the department said.

By about 9:50 p.m., most of the cows had been loaded onto two trailers, but the last one is reportedly still "out and about."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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