By Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily
For more than a week, 8-year-old Kali Villarreal has been distraught, frightened and sad as she searches for her best friend, Sparkles.
The 1,500-pound, 3-year-old Black Angus bull Kali bottle-raised and who followed the Albany County third grader around like a pet didn’t come in from grazing about 10 days ago and hasn’t been seen since.
“She’s just very upset,” grandmother Lucia Villarreal told Cowboy State Daily.
She posted a desperate plea on Facebook to find Sparkles.
“I try to tell her that maybe he just wandered off and got lost, but you know how it is with some landowners,” Lucia said. “The big ranchers don’t necessarily care for us hobby ranchers.”
Was Sparkles Rustled?
While she has no evidence and has reported the missing bull to the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, Lucia suspects Sparkles didn’t get out on his own or wander off and get lost.
“This bull was a bottle calf and he’s quite friendly,” she said, adding that Sparkles loves people and at times acts more like a clingy puppy than a Black Angus bull.
“He’s a pet – he’s Kali’s pet – and no coyote or wolf is going to take off with a 1,500-pound bull,” she said.
Because of Sparkles being so friendly toward humans, and ongoing friction with larger cattle ranchers in the area who Lucia says don’t like “hobby farmers” like the Villarreals using public grazing land, she suspects Sparkles may have been rustled.
“I don’t know if somebody got mad because he’s a bull and was out or what,” she said. “But the problem is it’s Kali’s, and when an 8-year-old gets attached to something it’s special.”
Along with Sparkles, Kali, who attends school at Medicine Bow Elementary, loves being around and raising farm animals, her grandmother said.
“She’s too young for 4-H yet, but she has goats and does her own little shows for them,” Lucia said. “She has the goats going through little hoops, going up and down stairs.
“She’s been around animals almost since she was born. I truly believe these animals have brought her out of her shell.”
But Sparkles was more special to Kali, she said, adding that, “He followed that kid around like a puppy.”