Poker game brings cow controversy

January 18, 2008 4:27:08 PM PST
When Janice DeCoff of Ewing was playing poker with some farmers a few months back, she never dreamed winning the pot would include not just cash, but a cow!

"I pulled over the pot and there was the receipt for the cow," said DeCoff.

Soon after, a calf that she and her family call Mookie was delivered to her Florence Avenue home. After a night or two staying inside, Janice set the cow up in the backyard shed.

"Got hay, got formula for it. We were setting the clock every four hours and feeding it. It has a light and a sleeping bag," she said.

But someone soon complained to animal control.

"Livestock and farm animals are just not allowed in residential areas," said health officer Allen Lee.

When animal control officers arrived at DeCoff's house and wouldn't let her move the cow into an open truck, a friend of Janice's suggested taking Mookie to a slaughterhouse.

Rather than take the chance of having the calf turned in to hamburger, animal control officer Matthew Barber and an anonymous farmer paid DeCoff $250 of their own money to buy the cow.

"I didn't want to see the little calf slaughtered just because that was their way to get it off their property," said Barber.

Mookie is now living safely on a farm, but Ewing officials have a beef. They're considering charging DeCoff with neglecting the calf, which was found to have some minor medical ailments.

"There was no cruelty at all and if there was something wrong with the cow I'm sorry. I had no idea," said DeCoff.

DeCoff said she took great care of the baby bovine. She said she may think twice about playing poker again with the farmers. When it comes to all the attention her cash cow has gotten, she says it's "utterly ridiculous."