Police say they did not take lightly the decision to shoot a bull that escaped from a Massachusetts livestock auction last week.
A national farm animal protection group on Monday however, called the animal's death a "senseless killing."
Police in Littleton said the bull, which had been roaming the area since its escape last Tuesday from Farmer's Livestock Auction and Market Exchange, was heading back toward a busy road Sunday when an officer, concerned for the safety of drivers, fired two shots. The animal's owner, Terry Denbesten, arrived and fired a final fatal shot after determining it was suffering and could not be saved.
"He had been crossing the road, people were panicking," Denbesten said. "I’d rather see the bull die than someone die."
Denbesten said the whole ordeal could have been avoided if environmental police used a tranquilizer gun on the bull early on in the search.
"The animal would still be alive today. They said nobody could tranquilize the animal. I said, 'why?' They said it was against the law," Denbesten said.
Susie Coston, national shelter director for Farm Sanctuary, said alternatives like tranquilizers could have been used to catch the bull. The group offered one of its sanctuaries as a refuge for the animal if it was captured alive.
Denbesten, who sells animals and runs a slaughter house in Raynham, said the bull was purchased for a customer who planned on sacrificing it for an upcoming religious holiday. Now he and the customer are both out several thousand dollars.
"I believe I am due restitution," he said.
Denbesten said he wants a law created, or at least changed, around the use of tranquilizers in these types of circumstances so something like this doesn't happen again.
Massachusetts Environmental Police issued the following statement regarding the shooting:
"While environmental police officers are trained in the immobilization of large animals, officers are not trained to immobilize domestic animals, like cattle."