NEWFANE, N.Y. (WIVB) — There’s beef between Niagara County farmers and a local animal sanctuary.

Earlier this month, two cows found their way to Asha’s Farm Sanctuary on Coomer road in Newfane, according to owner Tracy Murphy.

Scott Gregson, who owns McKee Farms just down the road, said the cows are his, but the sanctuary does not want to give the cows back.

“How could anyone expect that we would hand over the animals when we feel we’re in our legal right, right now, to hang on to these animals?” Murphy told News 4. “And we’re a sanctuary. We don’t want to hand over these animals that are going to go into slaughter.”

The dispute is upsetting local farmers who are demanding Asha’s Farm Sanctuary release the beef.

“It should’ve been given back to the owner,” Nancy Fawcett, who owns a nearby farm said. “Other people have had cows or horses get loose and people make sure they get back where they belong and stuff, and why she kept them, beyond me. That just didn’t make any sense, that’s not what you do.”

“I hope it teaches people a lesson not to mess with farmers,” said Ed Petitt while holding a sign out front of the sanctuary. “I’ll tell you that much. This is ridiculous. This is people’s livelihood, it’s food on the table. It’s food to feed their families. This isn’t right.”

“Nothing against her, what she does, her business, and what she chooses to do for the good of injured and helping other animals. But in this case, she’s stolen two cows and she needs to give them back to the rightful owner,” said Laurie Andrews-Skinner who lives in the neighborhood.

Gregson said he could not comment on the case while police investigate, but said he is thankful for people’s support.

“It really means a lot to us, this is a very stressful time for our family right now with what we’re going through and I just can’t thank them enough,” Gregson said.

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.