Ohio 80 Rescue
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On April 4, 2008, I received a phone call from a friend who told me that there were 80 llamas in the Toledo Area that needed to be placed in new homes.  The owner experienced a disabling illness and was no longer able to take care of his herd.  This is an account of the rescue day and a follow up 2 months later.  More photos can be seen at:  The Ohio 80 Llama Rescue

Early in the morning on April 13th, Nina Winchester, Lisa Blidar and I drove towards Gibsonburg.  The sky darkened, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the rain started.  It seems as though one of the requirements of rescue work is bad weather.  Dave Kana, who was bringing a four wheeler to aid in roundup, called to tell me his van had broken down a half hour from their home but things were under control and they were indeed on their way.

My emotions were already raw from losing my beloved dog Molly that morning, and when we got there and

The first group of the 61 females and crias were inventoried, photographed, dewormed, vaccinated, tagged and assigned a rescue number

saw all the llamas in the rain and mud it was even more difficult than I thought it would be.  In the barn, there were more llamas and the poop was piled so high that I had to walk bent over.  At least the dead llamas had been carted away and buried.  The males were separated from the females.

I was soon surrounded by a group of 15 people eager to work and asking what needed done.  I gave directions and assigned tasks as fence panels were hauled out of the trailer and llamas were separated into manageable groups.  The strong armed guys caught and haltered, Joy Bishop-Forshey, DVM did quick health checks, body scoring and some ultrasounds to check for pregnancies.  Llamas were then handed over to others for shots, tagging and photos.  It was a very efficient assembly line as everyone pitched in and did what they could do best.  I stood there watching them with gratitude filling my soul and tears continuing to flow.  I couldn't seem to hold them back.

I was introduced to the owner who talked to me throughout the day.  He knew many of the llamas' names, had marked the crias and moms with corresponding spray paint so that we knew who went with who, had records from when he was able to take care of them and thanked me at the end of the day.

60 llamas later, the group took a quick break for coffee and snacks then it was on to the males.  Two more hours more hours and the 19 adult males and one stray female were done, everything was packed up and I expressed my heartfelt thanks to the mud covered, wet, cold, tired yet satisfied crew.  how can I ever really let them know how much it meant to have them there?  I know though, that they didn't really want thanks.  They were just happy to be able to help.

Eight llamas were put into trailers and hauled away to their new homes that day.  Fifteen more left for permanent homes that week.  One brand new cria whose mom had no milk and had actually abandoned him, was taken by Karen Salvagno and I hoped and prayed that she would be able to nurse him back to health.  Unfortunately, I received an email from her the next morning that he died during the night.  She did everything she could to save him.  He was a beautiful little guy who deserved a chance at life.

Overall, the llamas were quite calm.  They are typical llamas who have not been handled much with only a few getting really crazy.  One of the males was angry and nasty.  All of the llamas are very thin and there is a plethora of lice.  I was told by Joy that there was a problem a few years ago with nematodirus so the new owners are being informed about the parasite problems, what they need to do to get rid of any infestations and how to prevent spreading problems to their own animals.

The remaining llamas are all different sizes, colors and ages.  Some have gorgeous fiber and some are covered with guard hair and scratchy.  Some are mild mannered and others spooky.  I have it all documented somewhere.

We finally left with the assurance that the hay we saw would be distributed and the water troughs would be regularly filled.  There are some folks who live fairly close to the farm who agreed to check to make sure this happens.

We finally got home around 9 p.m. and then began the work of posting photos and llama details, contacting those who want llamas and everything else.


Leopardo was born on August 4, 2008 to an Ohio 80 rescue

It is two and a half months later and the sun is shining.  The "Ohio 80" llamas are gone.  My ears hurt from the hours I spend talking on the telephone.  My eyes are almost crossed from staring at the computer monitor where I read and sent tons of emails.  Weekly (and sometimes more) trips to Gibsonburg and transporting llamas here and there have drained my bank account.  My house and barns are neglected.  But, I sit here with a smile on my face knowing that it is all over.

As I think about the rescue I cannot believe that it went so well and so quickly.  I asked for help and people I didn't even know came forward with open arms and willing hands.  I asked for donations of medical supplies, halters, leads and equipment and things miraculously appeared on my doorstep.  I asked for help transporting and drivers and trailers materialized.

I received help for things I didn't even know I needed.  And finally, I asked for adopters and received such an outpouring of offers to take the llamas or help find homes that I was totally astounded.  I have never met such caring, generous and amazing people.  It would have been an overwhelming task without them.

The rescue went well but didn't necessarily go smoothly.  Somehow it always managed to rain when we were at the farm so we often traveled covered with spit and mud.  After a few visits, the llamas knew when they saw me that someone was going to get haltered and taken away so they always became apprehensive and skittish.  But as the numbers dwindled the tasks became easier.  Throughout the rescue, we were often frustrated, angry, tired and sad yet we forgave each other quickly and managed to laugh a lot.  Our exhaustion usually turned to giddiness so there are some pretty funny stories I could tell but I promised I wouldn't.

At the end of June, I made my very last trip alone to the farm.  All of the animals are gone except for one little gray barn cat.  The llamas, sheep, ducks, turkeys and guineas have all gone to new homes.  The fencing is being torn down and bobcat work has been scheduled to clean up the mounds of poop.  I walk around one last time looking at the deserted barns and fields.  I hear a faint hum and feel a gentle breeze.  It must be the ghosts of llamas we couldn't save.  They are thanking me for helping out their brothers and sisters.

Out of the 80 llamas there were unfortunately four deaths.  The first was the little cria that died the first day we were there.  A very old, emaciated gal went blind, stopped eating and had to be euthanized.  One older male unexpectedly died a few days after reaching his new home.  And a pregnant female died of no apparent cause. We are saddened by their loss and wish things could have been different for them.

I am slowly receiving updates from the adopters and as I receive photos I am posting them to a photo website.  Each story is different.  Some of the llamas are now guards to sheep, chickens or goats.  Some are companions or just part of a new family.  Others will provide fiber for spinners.  Even the llama that was thought to be nasty has been deemed just stubborn and is doing well in his new home.  All have gone someplace better and are happy.

It is impossible to tell everyone involved how much they are appreciated.  There are simply no words.  All of you have touched my heart and soul.  I extend very special thanks to:

My best friend Nina Winchester.  Nina was there with me every step of the way.  She not only made leads, but helped with inventory, transporting and wrangling llamas.  Her greatest contribution however was her encouragement and moral support when I was in despair.

Lisa Blidar who opened up not only her heart but her farm for temporary housing.  She is always there when I need her most.

My new pups Hope and Penn who were my traveling companions and who licked away my tears.

Finally to my dear husband Lyle whose gentle spirit keeps me going.


Zoe, another Ohio 80 rescue proudly shows off Tux who was born on July 5, 2008


And thank you to the following "rescue angels."  You have indeed made a difference

Adopters:  Lisa Blidar; Lisa Steigerwald-Kana and Dave Kana; Heather Hettick; Hallie Luxmore; Claudia Hammack; Lisa Dreggors; Gary Thigpen; Kate McKelvie; Gail Fulkerson; Rodney Porter; Michelle Rogers; Pat Holmes; Ted Wensink; Jenny Bohse; Johnette Parmelee; Dawn Mitchell; Ann Potter; Karen Salvagno; Ann Hughes; Kathy Daves; Thomas Deline; Gail and Darwin Skinner; Cherreen Thompson; Nina Winchester

Adoption coordinating:  Claudia Hammack; Michelle Rogers

Foster facility:  Lisa Blidar; Stacy Mashburn

Inventory:  Nina Winchester; Lisa Blidar; Cherreen Thompson; Lisa Steigerwald-Kana; Dave Kana; Vicki Steigerwald; Ted Wensink; Dawn Mitchell; Karen Salvagno; Lee Ann King; Cathy Bradford and her dad; Joy Bishop-Forshey, DVM; the "vet tech" and her two brothers.

Transportation:  Nina Winchester; Claudia Hammack; Lisa Dreggors; Bobby Smith; Rodney Porter; Michelle Rogers; Pat Holmes; Ted Wensink; Jenny Bohse; Johnette Parmelee; Dawn Mitchell; Ann Potter; Lisa Steigerwald-Kana; Dave Kana; Thomas Deline; Darwin Skinner; Deb Logan

Transportation coordination:  Deb Logan

Money contributions:  Gail Fulkerson; Rodney Porter; Heather Hettick; Cyndy Schmohe; Linda Pohle; Claudia Hammack; "a friend"

Shearing:  Cherreen Thompson

Other contributions:  Larry Agle, DVM - Ivomec, CD&T, needles, syringes; Pet Detect - tagging media; Nina Winchester - leads; Cyndy Schmohe and Linda Pohle - loan of a trailer; Intervention and Rescue Council - leads and halters; Lisa Dreggors - Ivomec and Cylence

Veterinarians: Joy Bishop-Forshey, DVM, Northwest Veterinary Hospital, Inc.; Larry Agle, DVM, Buckeye Veterinary Service, LLC

Encouragement and ideas:  Southeast Llama Rescue Board of Directors; Southeast Llama Rescue Adoptions and Fosters Committee