Perhaps one of the most famous cows in Montana history has found a new home in the Helena Valley.
Molly B gained international notoriety on Jan. 5, 2006, when she jumped a 5 1/2-foot fence at a slaughterhouse in Great Falls and led authorities on a six-hour chase across the Missouri River and several neighborhoods.
The escape of the intrepid heifer quickly became the stuff of legends. She nearly met her demise several times as she scampered through Great Falls, crossing a busy highway and narrowly avoiding a semi and Chevy Suburban. Next came a close call with a train, and a final flailing attempt to swim the icy river waters before her recapture.
As word of the valiant escape attempt spread, a groundswell of support to ensure that her dash had not been for naught led to her reprieve from the slaughterhouse. The manager of now closed Mickey's Packing Plant instead gave Molly B, who's name comes from the 50s era musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," her own pen next to the slaughterhouse.
In 2008, Molly B moved to the Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue near Hot Springs, joining a herd of 32 other cows. In 2011, she again moved to greener pastures, this time to New Dawn MT Sanctuary near Stevensville after multiplying animals at Hot Springs sent numbers out of control.
Molly B might have lived out the rest of her years at New Dawn, but owner Sue Eakins died, leaving the future of her sanctuary in doubt.
That's when friends of Helena Valley resident Andrea Mow told her that Molly B was again looking for a home. For the last month the celebrity bovine and two of her pasture mates, Mike and Gracie, have taken up residence on 15 acres off North Montana Avenue, along with several horses, roosters and goats.
"This is my first experience with cows, but we've been trying to start a rescue," she said. "I've always had a huge love for animals."
Mow and some friends have financed the rescue efforts so far, and look to get a nonprofit designation, she said. Called Salida Del Sol Animal Sanctuary, Mow said they are always looking for volunteers to help care for cast aside or abused animals regardless of species.
Molly B is the shy one of the bunch, and came to Helena very skinny. At 9 years old, she's reached the typical upper end of a cow's life, Mow said.
Each cow has its own personality, with Mike typically more playful and Molly B wary after the many moves she has been through, Mow said.
Molly B can be a tough cow to catch, but they hope to do a full veterinary workup on her in the spring, she said. Until then, they separate her from the other cows to feed her. So far, Molly B shows some signs of improvement like eating all her food, she said.
"My main concern is that she's comfortable," Mow said. "We had the vet out here, and she said, 'As long as (Molly B) is eating and chewing her cud, we can hope she puts weight back on.'"