DARKE COUNTY – Since February 2011, Darke County Sheriff’s deputies have responded 28 times to reports of cows either on the road or in the ditch in the area of State Route 121 and U.S. 36.
The last call came in Monday, said Chief Deputy Mark Whittaker – the day the owner of the livestock, Lowel E. Garber, 4902 State Route 121, was released from serving a three-day jail sentence for a Sept. 1, 2019 incident.
Municipal Court Judge Julie Monnin found Garber guilty of animals at large on a public roadway for the September citation, a misdemeanor of the 4th degree and sentenced him to serve a three-day sentence in early January.
Whittaker said deputies have been called to Garber’s residence six times since August 2019, citing him four of those times.
On Dec. 14, two cars hit cows, with the first driver not staying to give a report. The second driver, however, did remain at the scene and gave an accident report.
No one was injured, Whittaker said, adding that sentencing for the Dec. 14 case is pending in municipal court. Garber has entered a not guilty plea and the judge has found him guilty.
“It will fall on the judge to step up the penalties,” Whittaker said.
“When I looked through the logs to get stats, not all the 28 times did a deputy find cows in the roadway,” Whittaker said, explaining how several times Garber got the cows back behind the fence before a deputy arrived on scene.
“We didn’t have any witnesses we could use to cite him legally those times,” he said.
Whittaker said a review of sheriff’s reports reveal several other serious incidents between drivers and Garber’s loose livestock.
In 2013, a bucket truck hit a cow on the roadway; in May 2019, a motorcycle hit one of Garber’s cows. In 2014, deputies were called to the area two times and in 2018 they responded four times.
“We tell him ‘it’s your duty’ to contain the animals,” Whittaker said, adding “sometimes there’s just one or two, sometimes a whole bunch,” which have escaped either through a gate that’s been left open or a fence in disrepair.
Not only have drivers called in reports of seeing cows on the roadway, Whittaker said, there’s also been times when deputies on patrol have witnessed the animals out on the road.
“He’s unique,” Whittaker said of Garber. “We don’t have farmers or animal owners who are as negligent as this. It does happen and we issue warnings as long as there’s no harm done. In Mr. Garber’s case, he’s just not learning his lesson.”