South Texas Court Decision is a Victory for Cattle Producers Everywhere
By Katrina Huffstutler at Texas Cattle Raisers Association
via Oklahoma Farm Report - 16 Jul 2021
Previously seized cattle have been returned to owners.
When Darrell Franke, an 81-year-old rancher, died in January, he left about 100 head of cattle and the land they ran on to Jorge and San Juanita Padilla. The couple had worked for Franke for many years, helping care for his land and livestock in Goliad County, Texas.
The only problem? Franke’s children thought they, not the Padillas, should inherit it.
Contested wills are nothing new, but what happened during the probate trial left area ranchers deeply disturbed - and spurred Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association to step in.
According to Jim Bradbury, an attorney who represents the association, Franke’s children and the local constable began a campaign to seize the cattle, citing poor body condition scores. Others disagreed with the assessment, saying the cattle looked typical of those that had been through a drought and an unprecedented winter storm.
The complainant, who is also is a local constable, joining property owner to the Franke property and related to Franke’s children, asked another local constable to join up with an associate of theirs from Brazoria County in contacting the Houston Humane Society.
Together, they were successful. The local judge issued a warrant for the seizure of the animals. But the cattle weren’t sent to a nearby ranch - they were put in the care and custody of the Houston Humane Society. It was not only an interesting choice based on the type of animals involved, but also because Houston is more than 150 miles to the northeast of Goliad. And, despite the claims that this was in the animals’ best interest, cows and still-nursing calves were separated by authorities.
“So, they round up these animals and haul them off to a secure and unknown location,” Bradbury explains. “Now the Padillas, the rightful owners of these animals, don't know where they’re at. We don’t know where they’re at. Nobody knows where they’re at, except for the humane society.”
When local ranchers caught wind of what had happened, they reached out to Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. While the association couldn’t take a position in the formal legal case, members did want to express their concerns about the process that took place...