Mad Cow disease has been a major concern on the international scene since the 1980’s. This neurodegenerative disease is well known, especially during episodic outbreaks which affect the world’s meat supplies.The disease is instigated by the the eating of contaminated foods. Meats often become contaminated when the animal eats food that has been protein enriched by other animal processing byproducts.  Officials have been able to control the outbreaks through regulations on the feeding of cattle. Unfortunately this is not the only type of death that is being attributed to cows.

In recent years there has been an increase in the occurrence of cow stampedes and fatal tramplings. To date the fatalities have mostly been of women, children, and the elderly; however anyone is at risk of being involved in these unexpected cow attacks. Aside from death, broken bones, collapsed lungs, and fractured skulls, cases of being gored by horns have also been reported.

Don’t underestimate the often tame and domesticated cow. Adult cows stand around five feet tall, have hooves and horns, and weigh an average of 1,000 pounds. Their size alone can be a danger, but add a negative temperament and you have a killing machine. An estimated 20 people are killed by cows each year in the U.S. alone.

The National Farmer’s Union has stated that cows can become dangerous especially in the presence of their calves or if humans are accompanied by their dogs. Robert Sheasby, rural surveyor at the NFU says, “the cattle are interested in the dog, not the walker. As the cattle try to get the dog, there is a high chance that they will get the walker too”.

Cows are not naturally aggressive but when they feel threatened the results are tragic. To avoid arouding their fight or flight instincts walk around a heard, do not walk in between cows. Give them as much space as possible, especially avoid contact with the calves. Cows may come us to you to sniff, remain calm and only run if being charged. Make sure a cow sees you approaching, if you sneak attack them they will think you are a predator.

If you are attacked by a cow make sure to let go of your dog and run the opposite direction from your animal. You can also run down hill. Cow’s joints do no run down hill as quickly and they will slow or stop out of fear of falling down the hill.

Our communities have many opportunities to interact with cows. The vast majority of the time these animals are safe. When they do charge it is mostly due to a misinterpretation of our actions in some cases however, their attacks can be caused by external forces like the food they eat or the fencing used.

If you have experienced an unexplained animal attack like that of an angry cow call Christensen & Hymas at (801)506-0800.

Photo courtesy of Maria Enz