Bulgarian cow sentenced to death for wandering outside of EU

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By Anastassia Gliadkovskaya
Bulgarian Ivan Haralampiev forced to part with his pregnant cow, Penka
Bulgarian Ivan Haralampiev forced to part with his pregnant cow, Penka

Bulgaria has sentenced a pregnant cow to death for wandering from Bulgaria across the European Union’s external border to Serbia and lacking proper documentation upon attempted reentry.

Penka, the cow that belongs to Bulgarian Ivan Haralampiev, entered the neighbouring country without being noticed by border guards. A Serbian farmer later found and identified Penka by her badge and returned her to Haralampiev. However, Bulgaria forbid Penka from reentering the country, as per European regulations.

Haralampiev was told by customs officers that Penka must be inspected by a doctor. The Bulgarian doctor concluded the verdict was that she must be put down because she had left the European Union, Haralampiev told Bulgarian TV network BNT.

Haralampiev had a Serbian veterinary certificate attesting to Penka’s absolute health. Nonetheless, Bulgarian authorities have demanded that Penka be shot.

'Lack of compassion'

A Change.org petition calling on the EU to make an exception for Penka has collected more than 15,500 signatures at time of writing. 

"We believe that Penka's case reflects a lack of compassion on the part of EU officialdom for everyday people, such as Penka's owner, who is absolutely distraught," the campaign said. 

Vytenis Andriukaitis, a member of the EU Commission, tweeted at a Brussels correspondent championing Penka's release, saying the journalist has a future in animal welfare and that it's "good for Penka".