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Local rescues a llama

Char Quinn
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the DailyTwo American Humane Society volunteers teach a local volunteer how to feed and clean a pregnant dog in the materinity area of the warehouse.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. ” Today I am on my way to Charlotte, N.C., to join American Humane Society’s Red Star Team to assist the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department in Denver, N.C. (That’s right, Denver!) Our assignment is to assist with a search and seizure in a hoarding case and then arrange housing for the rescued animals.

There are approximately 200 various species of animals on the property, according to our information. Today and tomorrow we will prepare a shelter for the rescued animals.

Seven more Red Star Team members arrived tonight along with the Rescue Rig. The Rig will be our home for the duration of the mission. Next to the Rig is an 80,000-square-foot warehouse where we will shelter and care for the animals we seize.

We continue to prepare the warehouse for the arrival of the animals under close public scrutiny. We had to be incognito to keep people in the dark because the warrant will not be served until tomorrow.

Our 82-foot-long Rig got a lot of attention and a lot of questions followed about what we were doing there. Our cover story was that the Rig went all over the country and that we were just passing through. We did not wear our commando-looking uniforms out in public either.

Tonight the rest of the team arrived ” eight more people from all over the country. These eight people will be the team assigned to the temporary shelter to receive the animals.

This morning we had a briefing with the sheriff and the fire department about how the search and seizure warrant would go down. Our team had to wait down the road for about 45 minutes while the warrant was served.

We had four transport trailers that would go back and forth from the seizure site to the warehouse as we loaded all the animals. We really did not know what to expect from the animals’ behaviors and attitudes.

The first thing that we noticed on the scene was the horrific smell. The whole property was infested with bees and hornets. It poured rain the entire day ” it was not comfortable being soaked to the bone, but it was better than 90-degree heat and humidity beating down on us. As a bonus, the rain subdued the bees and hornets.

To start off, one team went into the house to get the birds and dogs. We initially heard there were 40 birds and three or four dogs to load in crates.

I was part of the second team. Our job was to get the five horses loaded and off to the new shelter. While we were working on the horses and had two in halters ready to be loaded, the stud colt broke through the flimsy fence and went after one of the other horses.

Luckily, he was still contained, but it took a little while for one of our team members, Diane, to get a halter on him. She got the other two horses loaded and was working on the third when I went back to help Shelly get the stud pony and a big paint around to the other side of the property where another trailer was waiting.

We walked the two horses out to the trailer. Both horses loaded well into the trailer and off they went.

We had no idea the local media were taking pictures and video of everything we did. We only found out when we saw it on the evening news and in the newspapers the next day.

We came back to help with the situation in the house because there were not only three or four dogs in the house, there were 66 dogs, plus a few cats. It took quite a while to get all the animals documented, loaded and on their way.

The intact male llama was my next project. Somehow I ended up being the one to have to put a makeshift halter on him. We were pleasantly surprised that he was very sweet and loved attention. He loaded into the trailer easily. We still had no idea how many animals we were dealing with.

Next up were the chickens, duck and goats. Since I have chickens at home I was sent in to round them up with Shelly. Most of them were hungry so it was easy to throw some food in a dog crate and watch them walk in. The remaining ducks and chickens we herded into another crate.

We had to grab the six goats and lift them over the fence to put them in crates. I looked at the goats a couple of days later and wondered how in the world I had lifted them over the fence. We were so busy we did not realize the media was still filming us through holes in the fence.

Next on our list was the “cat house.” This was the most disgusting place on the site. Forty cats crammed into small cages with a 100 mice, gerbils, rats, guinea pigs and sugar gliders stacked on top. The “cat house” was about 6-feet by 5-feet. The smell was horrid.

It took a while to haul all of the rodent cages out ” we had to leave them in their original cages and clean them later. The cats allowed us to pick them up and put them into cages. After they were all transported, there were still about 90 dogs left to handle.

We were informed that a thunderstorm with tornados was on the way and we had about an hour to get the dogs loaded and out of there.

We headed to the dogs and to our amazement they were very cooperative. We only had to use a catchpole on two of them that did not want to be on a leash. Both dogs turned out to be great after we got them to the temporary shelter. Other than one husky busting out of a crate three times, even after we zip-tied it, everything went quickly and smoothly and we were finished by 7 p.m.

The owners of the animals watched us as we worked and were cooperative. They took pictures of everything we did. We were soaked to the skin from the six inches of rain, but now we had to go help the rest of the team finish setting up the shelter at the warehouse. We helped for about an hour and then our commander, Tracy, sent all of us home for the evening.

It felt good to get out of our wet clothes. We knew we were in for a long day tomorrow.

Eagle Valley Humane Society Director Char Quinn shares her journal from her trip to North Carolina to rescue 200 animals ” including dogs, horses, guinea pigs, sugar gliders and a llama ” that had been “hoarded” on a single property.

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