ORLAND, Maine — Sweet Pea the steer is back home.
Tina Chadbourne, owner of the 1-year-old steer that is used by her 4-H club, said Sweet Pea was returned to her Orland farm Monday night after apparently being taken by several local youths who thought they were sparing him from the slaughterhouse.
“They thought they were saving him from the being slaughtered but, actually, he is a 4-H pet,” Chadbourne said. “He is used to teach kids how to handle animals.”
Sweet Pea, who is a white-faced Hereford weighing in at 300-350 pounds, disappeared from the family’s cattle and horse farm sometime Sunday night or Monday morning. It was unclear at the time whether he had escaped or been taken, but Chadbourne and her sister, Lisa McDonald, had suspicions that it was the latter and notified police.
Police got word about Sweet Pea’s potential whereabouts after news spread on Monday that the affectionate young steer was missing. Chadbourne said he was apparently stolen by two teens — one 15 years old and one 16 — and ended up at another farm, which has not been identified by police.
McDonald had said Monday that the family likely wasn’t interested in pressing charges as long as Sweet Pea was returned unharmed, but Chadbourne said Tuesday that the members of the Hoof & Paws 4-H club that she leads feel differently.
Whether charges are filed will depend on the police investigation, Chadbourne said. She added, however, that releasing an animal as large as a steer from captivity can be dangerous both to the animal and to drivers.
Lt. Tim Cote with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday that the investigation is continuing but declined to offer further comment.
Chadbourne said that Sweet Pea was a bit skittish Tuesday and was missing his ear tag and halter but otherwise appeared unharmed.