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
My emotions were already raw from
losing my beloved dog Molly that morning, and when we got there and
first group of the 61 females and crias were inventoried, photographed,
dewormed, vaccinated, tagged and assigned a rescue number
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
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
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
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
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
Lisa Blidar who opened up not only her heart but her
farm for temporary housing. She is always there when I need her
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
Adoption coordinating: Claudia Hammack; Michelle
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
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
Transportation coordination: Deb Logan
Money contributions: Gail Fulkerson; Rodney
Porter; Heather Hettick; Cyndy Schmohe; Linda Pohle; Claudia Hammack;
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
Veterinarians: Joy Bishop-Forshey, DVM, Northwest
Veterinary Hospital, Inc.; Larry Agle, DVM, Buckeye Veterinary Service,
Encouragement and ideas: Southeast Llama Rescue
Board of Directors; Southeast Llama Rescue Adoptions and Fosters