Doug Kaleida of Murrysville had a big enough job on his hands already: leveling his backyard and seeding it with grass.
Now, much of that work has been undone thanks to regular visits by a small herd of black Angus cattle that has been roaming southern Murrysville since late April.
“Everyone seems to be pawning this off, and while that’s happening, my property is being destroyed,” Kaleida said.
Kaleida’s wife Natasha first noticed signs the herd had visited in mid-May.
“I called the police that day, and I was laughing at first,” Natasha said.
It’s not funny anymore.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t spent so much time and money on the yard,” she said.
Members of the Westmoreland County Animal Response Team have been trying to track and corral the herd over the past few weeks with no luck, according to team coordinator Lori Mozina.
“Since our CART does not have the authority to do anything further, we had to now pass this case along to a local humane police officer,” Mozina told the Tribune-Review. “They are also working with the local Murrysville police, as well as having conversations with our local Penn State Extension office for resources to relocate the cattle as quickly as possible.”
As Kaleida walked his property recently, he had to move back and forth to avoid the “cow patties.”
Instead of acting as fertilizer, the droppings kill the grass.
“We tried to keep up with it, but there’s too many now,” Kaleida said. “It’s getting to the point where my kids can’t play in their own backyard because there’s (poop) everywhere.”
Kaleida said he believes the herd is visiting between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
“When I let the dog out before I go to bed around 12:30 a.m., they’re not in the yard,” he said. “When Natasha gets up around 6 a.m., you can see fresh tracks and fresh poop.”
The Kaleidas have called Murrysville police nearly a half-dozen times when they’ve seen the cows or evidence of their visits. Police Sgt. Scott Kettren said officers have been contacted 11 times since the herd was first spotted on April 29 on School Road South.
In turn, police have been in touch with CART officials, the Penn State Extension and local humane officer Cassie Wilson, who is involved with North Huntingdon-based rescue organization All But Furgotten.
“I do know where all nine cows are,” Wilson said. “I do have a plan in my head. But I need to speak with the homeowners first because it’s their property.”
Wilson said she planned to contact the Kaleidas after All But Furgotten’s Doggie Dash & Dance fundraiser on Saturday.
Residents should not try to take matters into their own hands, Mozina said.
“I’m worried someone will try to play ‘cowboy’ and get hurt, or they chase the animals into a more high-traffic area,” she said.
“People saw on the news that the cows were on Trefoil Drive, and then all of sudden people are driving over there to see the cows,” Wilson said. “You can’t approach them. You can’t go try and take a ‘selfie’ with the cows.”
Kaleida said the cows are using a maintained right-of-way on the rear of his property to move between a nearby pond, grazing area and his backyard.
They drink at the pond, they come over and eat, and then they come in my backyard and poop,” he said. “I just need something to be done.”