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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Llama Rescuers

So answer me this riddle dear reader, are people who rescue llamas heroes--- or fools? And of course, when you look at the picture above or any of the thousands upon thousands of pictures of any abused animal splashed across the news media, and the Internet the answer would seem simple.


As you read this, there is anger and angst and frustration and penetrating accusations that will no doubt get me into trouble should anyone from the greater llama community be one of the few if any readers who stumble on my blog, but at this moment I truly do not care. Llama rescue should be a part of every llama breeders committement to the animals they make money from... it just isn't.

Since I have only my experiences with llama rescue to fall back on, I will look at how THAT WORLD has moved in a direction that for me has crossed the fail-safe line. Though actually my involvement with llamas only is not completely true; many of my most recent legal encounters with animal rescue and legal impounds has also included sheep, goats, and horses. No I don't have direct involvement with those animals when they have been seized, but act collaboratively with several formal animal rescue organizations that do. Most common of those is Hooved Animal Rescue of Thurston County [Washington]

I'm the llama guy in that group who is supposed to be able to pull a rabbit out of my hat and find foster homes and eventually adoptive homes for the animals that have been seized. Sometimes you get lucky and the person who used to own the llama actually takes THEM BACK. Once, just once this has happened to me. Bolivian Legend K was taken back by its owner, Hola died after fighting for 45 days to stay alive. The owner was convicted of first degree animal cruelty.

I wander from the point, but here it is in its most raw and unfortunate truth. And just to make the point yes I will use ALL CAPS.


And if that sounds bitter and angry and resentful, then yes I am bitter and angry and resentful. I resent the fact that a recent article in the Sacramento Bee contacted a well known California llama breeder and among her comments included the fact that she 'doesn't do rescue', she refers people to me. Like I am supposed to solve a problem more than 600 miles away with a wave of a magic wand. But if you read a few other cross link posts I made recently, the local newspaper with help from some people who cared and don't even own llamas did solve!

Once upon a time, people with compassion would step up and take in a llama or two or three, until they were full up, while others would offer financial assistance to real non profit groups and organizations to help. From there it evolved into a world of hand wringing and comments like 'how awful' and 'good for you'. And NOW at least in my limited world, people don't even comment. The whys of it I am sure are as varied as the people who know but have chosen to do nothing, and the economic crisis WE ALL FACE, myself included, certainly is not helping things, but... these animals are not at fault. They just need and want a place to live out their lives with little if any expectations from the humans who only need to provide the most basic minimum of care.

Not all that long ago there was a small group of llamas that were living in less than desirable situation, though the legal authorities would not take any action. The woman who was interested in trying to find new homes for them, though a bit overly aggressive about her methods, was sincere and caring and correct; these animals did not need to live the way they were living and were in fact very much at risk.

Two, count them TWO very, very well known llama owners, breeders, exhibitors and activists in promoting llamas in the Pacific Northwest found the perfect solution for them. They told her to BUY THEM, THEN TRANSPORT THEM AND WE WILL SHOOT THEM!! She fortunately ignored that option, but just barely, and now by the end of this month all of them will have the opportunity to live out their lives homes in Montana. The theory from the two genocide oriented "Rescue Advocates", and I use that term lightly and with great disdain, was these are just throw away llamas and contribute nothing to the 'greater good' of llamas.

But what a great solution. Just think, I could walk out into my pasture right now and with little to no expense of any kind, I could reduce the animals living with me by half. All I would have to do is dig a huge hole and SHOOT 15 llamas. It would reduce my hay and feed bill by more than half, I wouldn't have to worry about the issues of shelter, and vet bills, and shearing time, and toe trimming. I would have more time to play and enjoy the llamas we have bred and bought. My back wouldn't hurt as much daily, my knees and shoulders wouldn't ache constantly from the torn tendons and ligaments repaired in all the joints, and because I wouldn't be doing rescue anymore, wouldn't get the phone calls while working, turning my day from a simple 10 hour work day to a 16 plus day helping to round up llamas standing knee deep in mud next to sheep with lungworms and rotting feet. I wouldn't be getting the call in the middle of the night from the Sheriff department about a llama running loose in the street and could I come help them round them up.


The most recent large animal seizure in Thurston County was shown on KOMO TV
And on KIRO TV

The video footage barely touches on the horrid conditions the sheep were in. The goats were not much better, and the llamas definitely show the impact of their prolonged neglect.


And the llama community has turned their heads and wrung their hands and the 4 llamas are still living in two horse stalls more than 2 weeks later. They have been triaged diligently, and some folks from the sheep and goat world have offered to take them in as foster and eventual adoptive llamas, but even they haven't followed through.

So on March 12, 2009 unless the owner of these animals either petitions the court for return of the animals, or posts what is often called a 'care bond', these animals will automatically be forfeited and will be available for adoption OR CAN BE EUTHANIZED. I have not known that to happen, but there is absolutely nothing to prevent it short of someone, anyone with a little land, some good fencing, and a willingness to foster these animals from stepping up and taking them in.

I don't expect that anything I do will stop the wave of llama rescue that has overwhelmed the rapidly shrinking base of people willing to help. I don't expect more people to step up, and heaven knows I don't expect any llama association on a national or local level to take an active and agressive approach to llama rescue; ask them and they will tell you in almost one voice 'its not our job'. There is one organization, solid, strong and I am proud to say am a part of that does have a component of its organization that looks at TRYING to best of its ability to help with llama rescue. The Llama Association of North America has a committee called Lama Lifeline I am the prime initial contact point for Lifeline, and will continue to be for now.

But I digress again. For now, these four girls waiting in horse stalls for their final fate only one of whom actually has a name that we know of will continue to wait without a thought or care in the world other than to stay alive. Oh by the way, the llama with a name is Gerry Blossom, the appy faced girl in the slideshow. Her partner in the stall is confirmed to be her daughter, and I have no clue who the other two are; for now they just have numbers on a chart being used to follow their care processes.

Regardless of the outcome for these 4 girls, I will follow through on them. IF someone, anyone steps up to add their gentle caring loving nature to their lives I will trim their toes for free, shear them for free, and guide and coach the new owners for as long as they want on care, and handling.

And if their lives are cut short because no one wants to care for them, I will hold their heads in my lap as they are put to death should it come to that...then I too will be done with llama rescue. It will be too much. I have held way too many llamas in my lap that have died or been euthanized because of real quality of life issues to watch perfectly healthy and happy animals be destroyed because they are just one more mouth to feed.

So answer me this riddle dear reader should there be any, are llama rescuers heroes or fools.....

1 comment:

  1. Oh I feel your frustration! Ran up against the same when we set up Maremma rescue here. Fortunatly the pupy mill door is to be closed by government and hopefully some of the load will drop.The lass who is doing a lot of the organising is haveing a lot of success with placing them on hobby farms and as chicken minders etc, The Pyrs are still not an issue. I have no idea how alpaca are here let alone LLama. We have a strong fiber industry but I think it is fairly controlled.


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