Both the owner of a pet cow shot and killed in Embden last week and the alleged shooter have been summonsed on charges in connection with the animal’s death, police said.

Jaime Danforth, 40, of Embden, was summonsed Wednesday for animal trespass, a civil violation, Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said in a news release.

Mason Sparrow, 24, of Embden, was summonsed for cruelty to animals.

Sparrow allegedly shot and killed Sophie, a 3-year-old Holstein heifer, after the cow escaped from its pen and wandered onto neighboring property where Sparrow has been staying and damaged an SUV.

The sheriff’s office investigated the case and consulted with the state director of animal welfare and the Somerset County District Attorney’s Office before filing the charges, Lancaster said.

“Sheriff Lancaster would like to advise everyone that owners are responsible for maintaining control of their domestic animals,” the release said. “The law is also clear that you cannot kill a domestic animal belonging to another person without their consent. If a domestic animal is trespassing on your property, you do have recourse.”


Lancaster said Sparrow did not contact animal control until after the cow had been shot, though he said contacting animal control should be the first step in dealing with animal complaints.

“If you do not reach a satisfactory resolution, you may contact the Town Office, who is responsible for hiring that animal control officer,” Lancaster said. “If a domestic animal does damage to your property, recourse occurs through the civil court system.”

Pat Nelson, animal control officer in Embden, did not respond immediately to a phone call seeking comment Thursday night.

Neither Danforth nor Sparrow could be reached.

Amber Richardson, Danforth’s niece, said last week the family had been hoping Sparrow would be charged for the loss of their pet, as they thought it was unfair to shoot the cow without notifying the family it had gotten loose.

She said her two teenage cousins were home alone when they found out from law enforcement officials their cow had been shot.


“All they had to do was come down and say, ‘Sophie is out,’ and the girls would have gotten the grain bucket,” Richardson said. “Once you go and jingle it, she would have gone home. He didn’t even notify them Sophie was out. He killed her, then called the animal control officer and sheriff. She was already dead when they reported it.”

Danforth is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 14 at the Somerset County Unified Court. Sparrow is scheduled for Nov. 7 at the same court.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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