Like many, I work in a place where people ask me questions-- sometimes stupid ones. Usually I don't mind. It's part of my job to help people become informed, and no one starts off as an expert on anything. This time, one lady managed to get to me. I think my reaction is partially out of guilt. Anyway...
So there's this llama. I've driven past him hundreds of times on my way to work or the farm. He's all alone, in a scruffy, badly-fenced pasture pasture next to a dairy farm. I've never seen him handled by humans. I've never seen hay or a water tank or any kind of shelter in his pasture. His coat is matted with burdocks.
|Okay, this isn't him. I'll try to get pictures later.|
I've always been kind of worried about him, but for various reasons I've never called animal control. Firstly, there are also cows there in other pastures, who do get food and water, and look reasonably healthy-- so I uneasily assumed the llama was being cared for too. Secondly, my experiences with animal control in an almost identical situation with horses across the road, was that the authorities won't do anything except in cases of REALLY EXTREME neglect-- so it's pointless to call them. Finally, I don't particularly have any fondness for llamas...so I felt sort of apathetic about the situation.
The lady (we'll call her Skyla) that came in tonight mentioned that she wanted to know where she could get information on llamas or alpacas, saying that she might be getting one. We chatted a bit, and I discovered her potential new pet was the same neglected llama I've seen next to the road. She didn't know anything about the animals, but wanted to see if she could handle getting one, because she had gotten to talking to the llama's owners, who mentioned they'd like to find it a new home. Skyla informed me that the farmers had had the llama for four years or more, and didn't bother to feed it much beyond the occasional scoop of cow silage. She claimed that the llama wandered in and out of the fences, into the corn field, and was mostly fending for itself.
Rather than being upset that the llama was so poorly taken care of, Skyla seem to admire that llama for being so self-sufficient. "He is very healthy, you know," she simpered. "Big and strapping, with a gleam in his eye. He's just fine."
Since Skyla doesn't even know the difference between a llama and an alpaca until tonight, I doubt she's qualified enough to glance at one and judge its general health. What makes it worse, however, is that as she was leaving, Skyla seemed even less inclined to take on the llama.
"Oh, you know I watched a video that said they're herd animals and can be very easily traumatized. I wouldn't want to move him! That might do him more harm than good! After all, he's almost a wild animal. He might be better off where he is, fending for himself."
NO animal is better off alone, with minimal food, no shelter, broken fences and no supervision. YES, you CAN traumatize an animal by moving it-- and that will last for all of a few hours. Would you refuse to take your child to the doctor for booster shots, because the child might cry?! Would you refuse to take a child away from an abusive parent because it might be upsetting to the kid?!
If this llama was in the wild, okay, fine. But it's NOT in the wild. It's not in its native habitat, with its native food. It's surrounded by broken, rusty, dangerous fences, where it could get tangled and cut, or where it could wander onto the highway. It does not have herd members, or any other animal in the same pasture to keep it company. Yeah, it might be able to take care of itself in the wild-- but humans have surrounded it by danger and neglect.
Skyla went on to say that she didn't think her boarding facility would be good for the llama, because it's, "just a corral with a shelter." Ummmm, and...? Where does she think most horses live? Also, she said, "I don't know how I would be able to keep one away from the other animal feeds-- that video said they were bad for llamas because of the copper!" Um, right NOW, that llama is being fed cow silage or NOTHING. There is no situation that would not be an improvement here.
I think Skyla is one of those extremely nice, rather stupid, well-meaning people without the sense or the courage to actually do the right thing. She thought about getting a big fluffy pet, realized it was too much work, and came up with some reasons for backing away.
The problem is, I can't judge her too harshly, because I didn't bother to investigate myself before now. I may be less stupid, but I'm not much more caring.
So basically, I might have to go get a neglected, half-wild llama. Joy.