The 20-odd undernourished alpacas from a Woodland-area farm are slowly finding new homes.
Keenan Harvey, director of the Humane Society of Cowlitz County, said six of the animals were taken off the farm by Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue, and there are nearly 15 potential adopters interested in adopting the other 16 alpacas, which remain on the Woodland farm.
Harvey said the Humane Society is checking adopters’ homes to make sure they are suitable.
“We’re going to be really picky about where they go,” he said. “Obviously we can’t do this forever, but we’re going to err on the side of caution.”
Harvey said alpacas are pack animals and must be adopted three at a time. Because they are easily stressed, he said he doesn’t want to move them before they are ready.
No charges or citations have been filed against the owner of the Woodland-area farm. Harvey said they are waiting until all the alpacas are removed from the farm. He declined to name the owner, because the case remains under investigation.
At the end of July, five of the more than 20 alpacas housed on the Woodland farm were brought to the local shelter after Harvey said he received a call from the owner of the farm.
“He kind of swallowed his pride and said he was having trouble with (the animals),” Harvey said in an August interview.
Within a couple of days, one of the alpacas died, prompting Harvey to call Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue officials, who determined they were starving.
Soon after, Humane Society officers and Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue officials returned to the Woodland farm to bring two female alpacas to the shelter. The animals were “in very rough shape,” and one died, Harvey said.
The other female was taken to Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue, where her health improved significantly.
Harvey said that at one point, the Woodland-area alpaca farm was “a good operation.” He said he never had any suspicion the farm wasn’t being properly run. However, Shari Bond, co-founder of Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue, said she believes the farm has been operating poorly “for a very long time — a lot longer than anyone realized.”
“Clearly they didn’t get this way overnight,” she said.
The alpacas are still at the farm until they are healthy enough to be moved. Humane Society volunteers visit three days a week to clean the farm and feed the animals. A helper on the farm cares for them twice a week and at night.
Harvey said he’s unsure how much longer it will take to move the animals to new homes.
“(We want to) make sure the adopters are good adopters,” he said.