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Burned steer finds a home

Posted: Tuesday, Jul 15th, 2014

Dylan Wilkinson's letter to the press, Tuesday.
Panda, a steer raised in the FFA program at Paso Robles High School and which suffered an act of animal cruelty when someone broke into the high school barn and set the animal on fire, will live out his days in an animal sanctuary near Sacramento.

Panda survived his attack last October, but the teen who raised him, Dylan Wilkinson, had a decision to make — take the steer to the California Mid-State Fair to sell as planned?

In a letter to the press, Wilkinson said, “This has been a very troubling experience these last few months, and I have made final decision to pull my steer, Panda, from the 2014 California Mid-State Fair. I never could have prepared myself for the backlash I received after my last interview. My supporters were being threatened along with rumors of others wanting to come to my residence to steal my steer,” he wrote. His entire letter is on this page as a photo image.

On Oct. 26, 2013 at approximately 8:05 a.m., the Paso Robles Police Department received a report of animal cruelty at the agriculture barn at the Paso Robles High School.

Wilkinson’s father reported a crime of animal cruelty after he found his teenage son’s 5-month-old steer at the high school’s agriculture barn, burned. The father reportedly went to the barn to feed the animal and found that it had significant burn injuries but survived. The family plans to show the steer at the California Mid State Fair this summer.

It appeared that the suspect entered the barn sometime between 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25 and 8 a.m. on Oct. 26 and set fire to the animal for unknown reasons.

Officers located evidence at the scene, which was collected for analysis as part of the investigation.

Paso Robles Police Department arrested former Paso High student, Garrett Evan Kaplan, 23, on an outstanding felony warrant of animal cruelty involving burning the steer.

“Panda is headed to … an animal sanctuary in Grass Valley on behalf of Marcy Christmas and her extremely generous offer of $10,000,” Wilkinson wrote. “I plan to use this money towards my future education in hopes of attending Oklahoma State University.”

For the complete article see the 07-18-2014 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-18-2014 paper.

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