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Walden farm on a rescue mission

February 27th, 2013

“If no one intervenes they are going to start dying—if they haven’t already,” said Helen King of My Saddle Brook Farm in Walden.

Alpacas come in a variety of colors and sizes, each with its own unique personality.

Alpacas come in a variety of colors and sizes, each with its own unique personality.

King has been operating in high gear for the last few days, organizing a rescue mission to a farm upstate where a herd of alpacas are in desperate need of new homes and medical attention. As she gathers supplies, makes upgrades to paddocks at the farm and works out logistics for adopting and transporting the animals, King explains that the effort began just a couple weeks ago, when she spotted an ad on Craigslist.

King’s farm is populated entirely by rescue animals and having already rescued a couple of smaller herds of alpacas, King decided to answer the ad and help. As each day passed however, she slowly came to realize that the situation was much worse than she was originally told.

King soon learned that the alpacas had been neglected and many were in need of urgent medical attention.

“They have been neglected to such a state that their teeth are so long that they cannot even close their mouths,” said King, explaining that alpacas need their teeth and hooves trimmed about twice a year. “Their hooves are so long many have a very difficult time walking. It is a gut-wrenching situation.”

On top of that, the true headcount of the alpaca herd has slowly ticked upward. The original ad stated that 25 alpacas needed a new home. By Monday, King’s contact had admitted there were nearly 100 alpacas in need of rescue.

“I want to get out as many as possible,” said King, adding that she was not backing out. “It’s all about the animals. I want to help as many as we can.”

King’s 21-acre farm currently has a broad spectrum of animals, from chickens to horses and even a llama that hangs out with the male alpacas King has already rescued. Soon, an emu named Ed will join the farm. All of the animals—even the chickens—are rescued animals. Some came to the Walden farm because their farm was closing up shop, others from rescue situations.

King said that the alpacas they are trying to rescue are the “most endangered” she has tried to save of the animals she has recently brought to the farm, and are in need of medical care and healthy food.

The farm faces a number of obstacles, from transportation (males and females have to be transported separately, otherwise the females would arrive pregnant) to the cost of the initial medical care. Each alpaca will need to be dewormed, sheared, receive a rabies shot and have its teeth and hooves trimmed. In addition, the males will need to be gelded as the farm will not breed the animals.

“These alpacas have not had proper medication in a long time, so they are in desperate need,” said King. “Keeping them is almost nothing. Their food doesn’t cost much. It’s the initial expense of getting them back to good health.”

Just the gelding will cost about $650 for each male alpaca. King said they also need to complete a few upgrades to their paddock with additional fencing to keep out predators and the construction of a run-in shed for the second paddock.

“At this point our resources have been stretched to the limit, but we cannot allow these animals to suffer any further abuse,” said King.

While King is making preparations to take on the herd, she noted that all of the alpacas don’t necessarily need to be relocated to the farm. For those that have the yard space and the dedication, King said alpacas also make great pets: they are hypoallergenic, get along well with humans and always go to the bathroom in the same spot, so cleaning up is fairly easy. Much like a cat, each alpaca has its own unique personality and they come in all different colors and sizes. King said they get along well with humans and bond to their handlers.

According to King, as long as the backyard has a chainlink fence (and their town’s zoning allows it) a family can take home a pair of rescued alpacas as pets. An alpaca will grow up to 100 pounds and only needs about $20 worth of food each month.

For those that can’t take one home, the farm is offering the opportunity to “adopt” an alpaca at a cost of $20 per month. The adoption would include the ability to name the alpaca and receive weekly updates and photos of the animal’s progress. The sponsor can also visit “their” alpaca at the farm.

King welcomes any aid from the community to help rescue and care for the alpacas. She noted that any money donated will go directly to the rescue of the animals. Volunteers are always welcome at the farm as well—including young helpers. The farm often helps local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts obtain different badges.

For those that would like to donate supplies, King would be grateful for feed, shavings, alpaca dewormer or gift certificates to local supply stores such as Heritage Feed in Bullville, Tractor Supply in Pine Bush or Blue Field Feed in Fishkill.

King said the donations have already started to come in, with individuals donating labor, veterinarian services, money and materials.

“The generosity of people toward animals is phenomenal. It’s been wonderful,” said King. “I can’t believe the response we’ve had so far.”

King has already found permanent homes for 29 of the alpacas and is confident that with a little help, the farm can rescue the entire herd.

“We have the space. We just need to do a little work,” said King.

For more information, contact My Saddle Brook Farm at: (845) 778-3420, or visit them online at Facebook or: www.mysaddlebrookfarm.com.

By RACHEL COLEMAN
rcoleman@tcnewspapers.com

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