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Free-spirited bull's adventure lands owner in jail

ORLANDO — Sam Monroe Smith tried, he insists, really tried for three or four hours to recapture Filet Mignon, a 500-pound bull a neighbor had just given him.

It had been in his pasture just two hours Sunday when it disappeared, he says.

Where it disappeared was a problem, according to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office. Smith's tiny pasture fronts State Road 46, a busy east-west highway, and the bull had become a potential traffic hazard.

Over the next 12 hours, Smith would make that search with more than a dozen neighbors, give up, put together a plan to try to recapture the bull the next day and be handcuffed and hauled to jail for not doing enough.

During that same 12 hours, the Sheriff's Office would get several calls from motorists who spotted the bull near the highway, dispatch at least three deputies — including a watch commander — and use its helicopter to light up the swamp searching for the bull.

The agency also would find the animal, use a Taser to disable it, capture it and tie it to a tree.

In his arrest report, deputies described the animal as "a black and white cow of medium build."

Smith was arrested, according to Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Kim Cannaday, because officers asked him several times to corral the bull, and after his first attempt, he refused to leave his house.

That's right, said Smith, 40, a private investigator. He refused because he didn't know where the bull was or how to lasso it once he found it. He'd asked for help from Seminole County Animal Control but got nowhere, he said.

Instead, he put together a plan: Someone who did know how to rope a calf was to come at first light, he said. But first, the smart thing was to leave the animal alone and let it calm down.

"It was just scared," he said.

The Sheriff's Office, however, wanted the animal recaptured now. If the bull got onto the roadway, it could cause a crash.

Back home after the failed search, a dispatcher called Smith Sunday night, saying they'd spotted the animal, Smith said.

"I thanked her, but spotting a cow and catching it are two different things," he said. He did not leave the house.

Then about 2:45 a.m. , he and his children were awakened by the sound of a helicopter overhead and a bright light shining into their house. The light was from a patrol car that had pulled into his driveway, he said.

He called the Sheriff's Office to complain and said, "Look, I told you people, you're making bad matters worse. Leave the cow alone. … You scared my family. This is idiotic. I can't believe you're harassing me about a cow."

About an hour later, he got word that the Sheriff's Office had recaptured the bull after Tasing it twice. He drove to the scene and was arrested on a charge of culpable negligence — putting someone at risk of injury. He posted $300 bail and was released that same day, Monday.

On Friday, the bull was tethered to a pole in Smith's barn. It also had a new name: Bolo, as in be-on-the-lookout for, Smith said.

Free-spirited bull's adventure lands owner in jail 11/26/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 26, 2010 10:43pm]
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