EAST SETAUKET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Some residents on Long Island are protesting to save a cow from slaughter.

Protesters say they’ve come to love Minnie the cow as a member of the community, but her owners say this is what farmers do with meat-providing animals.

Roosters, chickens, sheep, and goats — they’re all part of the rustic landscape at Benner’s Farm in East Setauket.

“Our farm dates back to 1751, we’re the seventh family that’s lived here,” Bob Benner told CBS2’s Valerie Castro.

Benner and his wife Jean have owned the farm since 1977, but of all their animals it’s Minnie who’s in the spotlight. Two years ago, the Benners bough Minnie in Ohio shortly after she was born.

“The reason we brought it back is that it’s a meat cow, and there aren’t many meat cows on the island that you can find,” Benner said.

The Benners now plan to slaughter Minnie to provide food for their family, drawing outrage from animal lovers like John Di Leonardo.

“There’s plenty of pictures on their Facebook where they call Minnie family. You don’t slaughter family,” Di Leonardo, a member of the Save Minnie From Slaughter campaign, told CBS2.

Hundreds of animal lovers have joined a Facebook campaign to persuade the Benners to send Minnie to an animal sanctuary, adding they were charmed by the farm’s own loving Facebook postings of Minnie.

“Why would I send her to live in sanctuary someplace with no reason for being? Her reason for being is to be a meat animal. That’s what she was born to be,” said Jean Benner of Benner’s Farm.

Save Minnie supporters say they’ve offered to buy the cow themselves.

“Minnie is a thinking, feeling animal just like a dog or a cat. She’s beloved by all of the community,” Di Leonardo said.

Bob Benner said with its sharp horns, there’s nothing cute or cuddly anymore about Minnie. He’s worried about setting a precedent.

“If I do it for you, I have to do it for somebody else. I have to do it for somebody that falls in love with a chicken in ten minutes,” he said.

The Benners said they feel bullied, but the Save Minnie supporters say they will protest outside the farm until Minnie is sparred.

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