BARNESVILLE, Minn. — Police officer Ryan Beattie was patrolling downtown Barnesville around midnight Tuesday, July 16, when he saw something that caught his attention in a shadowy area near Fifth Avenue and Front Street South.
"I caught some movement and then I saw the eye glow," he recounted.
It wasn't a dog or cat, but a cow running loose in downtown Barnesville.
Barnesville police eventually captured the cow, but the next problem was determining who she belonged to. Unfortunately, the cow didn't have any of the usual marks — like an ear tag — to determine the identity of the owner.
Beattie called and woke up several farmers trying to find the owner, but nobody seemed to be missing any livestock. He eventually found a volunteer in local farmer Ed Gilbertson, who stepped up and rounded up the Red Angus cow.
"He got out of bed in the middle of the night, when it wasn't even his cow, and gave it shelter and security — helping a farmer he doesn't even know," Beattie said.
There are a couple of theories about who owns the cow. She is so friendly, it might be a pet. Or it could be leftover from the Clay County fair, which wrapped up Sunday.
One obvious piece of evidence in this cow caper is the hungry heifer is friendly and likes a scratch now and then.
"She is in real fine shape," Gilbertson said. "Someone's going to claim her. It is somebody's pet — she likes to get petted."
The curious, quiet cow is not his, but he is boarding it until the rightful owner shows up.
"As easy as she went in the barn, I thought that was the best place for her," Gilbertson said.
For now, the affectionate angus will stay behind bars after her breakout.
For officer Beattie, it's another strange story in a more than decade-long police career.
"I have been doing this 11 years, and I have never had the exact same day," Beattie said. "I know about as much about cows as I do the space shuttle. I just know they are delicious."
If you're missing a Red Angus heifer, contact the Barnesville Police Department at 218-354-2281.