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Escaped bulls in West Baltimore captured after hours-long standoff

The Baltimore Sun
Baltimore police corralled two escaped bulls in West Baltimore on Friday morning.

Pleas Gethers did not expect to see two bulls roaming the streets of Baltimore when he turned on the news Friday morning.

He was even more startled when he realized the streets shown on TV were the ones outside his apartment.

The 62-year-old resident of Penn Square Apartments, in the 2600 block of Pennsylvania Ave., was one of dozens who flocked to watch the action as police and others corralled two bulls that had escaped from a nearby slaughterhouse.

Workers in an Old Line Custom Meat Co. truck showed up and turned a grassy lot south of the apartment complex into a makeshift pen, using existing property fences, the side of an apartment building and metal gates.

They attempted to use hay to coax the animals into a trailer during part of the standoff, which lasted almost two hours.

"They know — 'Ain't nobody making no steak out of me!'" Gethers said with a laugh.

Yvonne Cox watched cautiously from behind the police tape, ready to make a dash if the bulls made a break for it.

"This is so interesting but, at the same time, crazy," she said.

The bulls were captured about 10:15 a.m., and the onlookers burst into applause.

"They got 'em!" one yelled. "Now I can go to work."

There were no injuries or property damage, police said.

"This could have been a serious situation because they were running down the streets of Baltimore at one point," police spokesman T.J. Smith said.

Friday's events recalled a similar incident in June 2014, when a 780-pound steer escaped from the George G. Ruppersberger & Sons slaughterhouse. The steer walked two miles down North Avenue before police shot and killed it in Mid-Town Belvedere.

Old Line Custom Meat Co. is the product of a merger between George G. Ruppersberger & Sons and Roseda Beef.

The last operating slaughterhouse in Baltimore, it was founded in 1868 by Gustav Henry Ruppersberger, who emigrated to Baltimore from Germany. The business is now managed by the fifth generation of the Ruppersberger family and by co-owner Ed Burchell. The business supplies meat to grocery stores, restaurants, clubs and hotels.

Slaughterhouse operators must be licensed and file annual reports with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Their facilities are subject to inspection under the federal Packers and Stockyards Act.

Maria Machuca, a USDA spokesperson, said federal officials have inspected the slaughterhouse. Inspections include examining animals before and after slaughter, testing for diseases and harmful pathogens, and making sure the facility complies with food safety standards.

Information about recent inspections was not immediately available.

Old Line Custom Meat Co. declined to comment Friday on the incident or its slaughterhouse safety precautions.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered to transfer the bulls to a sanctuary home in one of three locations — New Jersey, New York or Poolesville.

"These bulls have shown ingenuity and determination and should be granted their freedom," Ingrid Newkirk, PETA president, said in a statement. "No bull deserves to be hacked apart for brisket or burgers, and these two are ambassadors for the rest."

In January, a 2,000-pound bull escaped from a slaughterhouse in Queens, N.Y, ending up on a nearby college campus. Comedian Jon Stewart generated headlines for his involvement in the bull's rescue.

In February, a 1,100-pound bull escaped a slaughterhouse in Eastern Michigan after surviving a shot to the head. And last year, a cow injured two people in Trenton, N.J., after escaping from a slaughterhouse.

Baltimore Sun reporters Luke Broadwater and Jesse Coburn contributed to this article.

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