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Escaped cow hoofs around Forsyth County, takes deputies, doctors, internet to track down
Spotted by hundreds as travels take her to Ga. 400, Whitlow Elementary
Moodini was finally captured off Buford Dam Road near Market Place Bouelvard, more than a day after she escaped from a farm in Cumming on Pilgrim Road. (Courtesy of the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office.)

A hometown heifer that caused udder chaos over the weekend returned home Sunday morning after hoofing around Forsyth County for more than a day, her escapades being essentially live-posted on social media.

Moodini, a cow nicknamed by a Forsyth County 911 dispatcher, escaped her fenced pasture on Pilgrim Road and was captured the next day off Buford Dam Road near Market Place Boulevard after deputies, her owners and a local veterinarian held a day-long “steak” out.

“Back when the county had a lot of cows, I helped with [escapees] pretty regularly,” said veterinarian Lanier Orr, owner and founder of south Forsyth’s Orr Animal Hospital. “It’s probably been four to five months since I last helped though because this kind of thing doesn’t happen very often now.

“This one was so unusual. [Cows] usually go to an area where they feel safe and stay there, but this one didn’t do that – she was really moving.”

Cow timeline
- photo by Tracie Pike
Moodini’s owner, Nathan Williams, estimates the bovine traveled about 30 miles from when she escaped sometime overnight Friday to when she was captured around 8:45 a.m. Sunday morning. 

He said while the cow was herded into her trailer only a mile and a half or so from home, she was spotted as far south as the Longlake subdivision, which is about a half-mile north of Sharon Springs Park.

“We didn’t realize she was missing until about 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning when we started seeing [Facebook] posts on [social media group] Focus on Forsyth,” Williams said. “After seeing photos, we checked our herd and, at that point, began chasing her.

“She’d probably made it two to three miles before we even realized she was gone, and even though we began chasing her immediately, she was long gone at that point.”

Moodini, who had recently weaned from her mother, was likely trying to find her, Orr said.

“She was just excited,” he said. “She was just weaned from her mama and went looking for her and didn’t know when to stop. It was quite an ordeal but turned out fine in the end and was a great day for everybody — we definitely had some fun out of it.”

What’s the most interesting thing about this is she traveled almost exclusively on sidewalks – not roads, not in the woods where cows usually would, but sidewalks. It was very strange, and when we were finally able to catch her, she was on the sidewalk then, too, so she was very polite about it at least.
Nathan Williams, farmer and Moodini's owner

Studio Forsyth: The Story Behind Local Cow's Great Escape

By: Paul Dybas

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In total, the cow was loose for more than 24 hours, Williams said.

“We first went to where she was first spotted on Tribble Gap Road,” he said. “She was gone, so we started to follow the Focus on Forsyth comments, where posts kept popping up.

“Some people saw her on [Highway] 20, but after that she made an abrupt southward turn and went through downtown Cumming. The sheriff’s office monitored her until she made it to the city limits, when the Cumming Police Department took over.”

After eluding police in Cumming, Moodini was next spotted on Castleberry Road by Whitlow Elementary School, according to a 12:36 p.m. photo posted online.

“We made it to Whitlow seven minutes after we saw the post and were asking around in the subdivision, but no one had seen her – she’d managed to elude everyone in that area,” Williams said. “The next [spotting] was on Ga. 400 southbound somewhere between Exits 15 and 12, and that’s when things really took a turn.

“We knew catching her was a high priority at that point because of traffic, and I got on the highway, but with the construction [traffic] I wasn’t moving. I was on the phone with a dispatcher who said [calls] were coming in saying [Moodini] was coming in and out of the woods before she managed to cross 400.”

By that time – it was past 1 p.m. — Williams said he and deputies partnered in the search.

“There aren’t many farms or pastures by Exit 13 and it’s a high-density housing area, which made it difficult to capture her,” Williams said. “She was spooked at that point, too, and the goal was to tranquilize her but [per] Dr. Orr’s suggestion, we didn’t end up doing it because we didn’t want her to run into traffic after the tranquilizer gun hit her.

“Deputies had their guns out because they knew they might have to shoot her for traffic safety reasons, but they never shot their weapons. We kept trying to get her in people’s backyards, but then she just went missing for about four hours and we couldn’t find her.”

Nathan Williams cow farmer
Nathan Williams stands in front of the pasture his cow, nicknamed Moodini by the 911 dispatcher who took all the calls this weekend about her, escaped from on Pilgrim Road this weekend.
Around 6 p.m., calls began coming in from Longlake residents who found her meandering through their backyards.

Despite the tips, Williams said she disappeared into nearby woods and was not again spotted until Sunday morning, when she was finally wrangled by Orr and others.

“What’s the most interesting thing about this is she traveled almost exclusively on sidewalks – not roads, not in the woods where cows usually would, but sidewalks,” Williams said. “It was very strange, and when we were finally able to catch her, she was on the sidewalk then, too, so she was very polite about it at least.

“Aside from finding her, our biggest problem was how she got out – we thought maybe a fence was down, but she was just upset she wasn’t with her mom and was just determined to escape.”

Williams said as of Monday morning Moodini was eating well and “completely settled” back within the confines of a fence.

Her mother remains in Hall County and Williams, said he does not anticipate another escape.

“She wasn’t injured and is recovering just fine,” he said. “Usually, it takes several days to get over stress of the mother-calf separation and her travels probably tired her out, so she’s calmed down.

“It’s something that’s completely [abnormal], but she was just a very determined cow determined to find her mother and is back safely. All is well, thankfully.”