EAST SETAUKET - Minnie the cow has been on Benner's Farm in East Setauket for the past two years, and now protesters are rallying to try and spare her from the dinner table.
Farmer Bob Benner says he bought her in Ohio to raise for food.
"Meat cows are very hard to find on Long Island," Benner says.
But a Facebook group called "Save Minnie from Slaughter" has almost 800 members, and another 1,500 people have signed a petition to save her. Others have rallied in support of the farm's decision.
"The Benners have claimed that she's part of the family," says Juliana Cinone, one of the protesters. "Would you eat your own family? That's the question here."
"If the Benners truly loved Minnie, they would send her to a legitimate sanctuary, where she could live out the rest of her life," Cinone says.
Benner says the protesters don't understand his way of life.
"I would not tell them what to do," Benner says. "I don't like them telling me what to do either."
Some of the protesters have offered to buy Minnie and put her in an animal sanctuary, but Benner says he would not be able buy organic meat in the supermarket that would be of the same quality.
Because of that, Benner says some of the protesters have taken to harassing his family and even making threats.
"Some of the names they called my wife...it's ugly," Benner says.
But the farmer says he has no plans to change his mind and will slaughter Minnie as he intended when he bought her.
He says he understands that people may have developed a connection with the cow, but that's happened before with other farm animals. And it will likely happen again.
Benner says he's had 10 other meat cows on the farm over the last 38 years. They all had names.
"If you have an animal in your house, and you love it, and it's your pet, you name it,” Benner says. “That doesn't mean that farmers don't name their animals."