A Wonderful Christmas Gift!
A rescue takes a great deal of people-power, behind the scenes work and education. This story is no different from the many rescues handled by Southwest Llama Rescue, but it has a wonderful outcome.
It was obvious by her tone on the phone call early one September morning that Silvia (not her real name) was distraught. After listening to her story, it was clear that she cared for the llamas but was just overwhelmed with life events (health, finances, broken fences, etc.). More than 10 of her llamas were off her property and onto a neighboring ranch. The neighbor had called Animal Control. Animal Control had threatened Silvia with fines if she did not contain her animals. In the meantime, Silvia's husband, an aged veteran, was in poor health in a nursing home plus Silvia herself had health challenges. She mentioned more than once that dying would be easier. I told her I would check with Animal Control to see what could be done about the complaints and fines and help all I could.
A few days later, after driving to her location, I met with the local animal control officials. They needed confirmation that Southwest Llama Rescue (SWLR) was a legitimate rescue organization in order to work with us to help Silvia and the loose llamas. Our small animal control is always full to the brim with dogs & cats. They did not have facilities for many large animals and once the llamas were caught, would not be able to keep them or find them homes. Animal Control agreed to set up panels to catch the llamas, manage the catching process, and then turn the animals over to SWLR provided Silvia would sign the necessary surrender papers.
We continually assured Silvia that SWLR would not auction the animals but instead would care for them and find homes for them. I let her know that if she would surrender the animals to Animal Control, she would not be fined, and animal control would turn them over to SWLR. We met Silvia with the necessary papers, delivered hay and supplements for the llamas that were still on her property, arranged for a vet to geld the intact males, found someone to help repair fences and sent messages to her sons to let them know she needed help. Another volunteer set up a meeting for Silvia with a VA counselor to help her understand what services might be available to her thru the Veterans Administration.
The situation required gathering a number of fellow volunteers and friends making many visits to her property with 4 wheel drive vehicles. Animal Control set up pens to catch the 11 loose llamas, many of which were very pregnant. It took two months to corral them and move them to an SWLR sanctuary, usually 3 at a time. The remaining males that Silvia had on her property were corralled with help from SWLR volunteers and transported by arrangement with a local exotic animal transporter with a high clearance trailer.
That was the adrenaline "rescue" part of the story. Then comes more time & hard work and help from friends and fellow SWLR volunteers with computer skills and the ability to raise money and find homes for the surrendered llamas. Transport and some feed was paid by previous SWLR donations. Friends and fellow volunteers donated additional funds that were needed to transport or feed the llamas as they arrived. The sanctuary property needed to be modified by rearranging some of the portable fencing and containment areas plus the purchase of additional supplies of hay and supplements for compromised llamas and vet care. It took two years of caring for the very untrained llamas, watching/helping with births that occurred at NIGHT in the middle of winter, separating and gelding the males and caring for the new born crias with winter coats and supplements. SWLR volunteers were continuously finding homes for the adult llamas that were ready, plus caring for the llamas that remained in foster care. This included lots of feed, supplements, medications, vet visits, training, toenail trimming, shearing, and transporting, sometimes over long distances to their new homes. Pictures were taken, added to websites and Facebook pages plus appeals were made for foster homes, permanent homes, and donations.
More hours of dedicated energy and time and talent than I thought possible were given to this herd and the remaining llamas on Silvia's property. Just this Christmas week, the remaining two llamas went to their new home to be guards for goats on a ranch.
Thanks to all of you who made this rescue possible with your time, talent and donations. You saved not only the llamas, but gave comfort and aid to Silvia. What a Christmas gift.