Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to relax with family, eat good food, and reflect on what we’re all thankful for. However, missing show equipment, trailers, and cattle is bound to put a bitter spin on the holiday for members of a Houston FFA chapter.
When Antonio Cruz, a senior with the Ceaser Chavez High FFA in southeastern Houston, went to feed his cattle during the holiday, that’s just what he found: His show string, consisting of two Beefmaster heifers and a bull calf he’d hoped to exhibit at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in a few short months were missing.
Now, the family is looking for help locating their lost cattle.
The cattle were housed at the high school’s livestock barn. Unlike many ag facilities, Ceasar Chavez High’s ag facility is located on about 25 acres about 15 miles from the school. Antonio’s mother, Eloisa Cruz, shares that the facility has struggled with thefts for the past two years.
“There are three barns on the facility. Earlier this year, some trailers were stolen, and cattle were moved into different barns. We’re not sure if this is a related incident,” she told AGDAILY.
For the past two years, show equipment has gone missing, and the facility had its alarm and camera systems disconnected.
The local sheriff’s department was contacted, and a police report was filed with the Houston Police Department. The family said that the school district also filed a report. Now, they’re reaching out to local sale barns, beef processing facilities, and feed stores to find out if anyone has seen their cattle.
“This is my family’s last year of showing livestock; we never thought this would happen. Sadly, the cameras were not working, so we don’t know what happened,” said Cruz.
Antonio is the youngest of three siblings, and his mother reports that he was devastated to find the cattle missing. Their family started showing livestock with their oldest son, and Antonio began raising chickens, cattle, and pigs in the fifth grade.
“We had no idea when we got started with cattle how much hard work it would take,” Cruz said. “But my kids love it; the program has taught them so much responsibility.”
Antonio plans to attend Texas A&M in the fall and had hoped to use the funds to help him on his way to his eventual goal of attending the school’s veterinary program.
“He worked all summer to pay for feed, and it’s been a family project we’ve all invested in,” his mom said.
Both heifers are hip-branded, one with a TS and the other with a bar HL (connected). The bull calf is unbranded. All are registered.
“We’re not sure what happened, and we’re so thankful that none of the students were caught in a bad situation at the barn,” said Cruz. “But, it’s still heartbreaking. They would be easy for people to take because they were halter broke and very gentle.”
The Houston Police Department or the Cruz family can be contacted with any details.
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