CORVALLIS, Ore. — After a long journey through the snow storm, 175 alpacas have a new home: Oregon State University.
The College of Veterinary Medicine volunteered to care for the animals after the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue rescued 175 alpacas from a Polk County Farm. The Sheriff’s Office says the ranchers who were looking after the animals are facing legal charges. Veterinarians at OSU say the animals were confined in a small space and were not fed properly.
“We have evidence that they were under some severe stress,” said Christopher Cebra, a veterinarian and professor at OSU. “And most of that appears to be nutritional. Overcrowding can be stressful as well.”
Helen Diggs, OSU’s Attending Veterinarian, says most of the animals simply need to eat more and are in need of some husbandry care: teeth cleanings and nail clippings.
“You can see some of the tooth issues we’re going to be dealing with,” she said. “Their teeth are supposed to be straight.”
Cebra says all of the alpacas are underweight.
“Our newest addition is a baby that was born this morning,” he said. “The baby weighs about ten pounds. Anything under fourteen pounds is considered premature or underweight.”
The baby, already named E.T., is eating – a good sign.
“We’ve got what we call a bear-hugger here to warm the baby up and a heat lamp,” Cebra said.
Cebra says he does not know the details about the previous farm, but he can say the alpacas did not arrive in a healthiest state.
“On our body scoring scale which is a scale from 1-9 with 9 being the fatter animals and 1 being the thinner animals – all of these are kind of in the 1-3 range,” he said. “And usually you’re aiming for the middle of the scale. Allowing animals to become malnourished and not thrive is not anything anyone should strive for.”
Within the last month, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue have been tending to the animals.
“And they did a bulk of the hard work there,” Cebra said. “We’re very appreciative of what they did and we’re glad that we’re getting the opportunity to contribute now.”
Now the animals are safe, slowly gaining their health back.
“They have been eating pretty well,” Diggs said. “But they’re still a ways to go before they’re thickened up.”
But the goal is to eventually get the alpacas adopted.
“We don’t want to move them from here until we’re confident they’re going to thrive at their home farm,” Cebra said.
Cebra says the time of adoption depends on each animal’s health.
For anyone who is interested in adopting an alpaca or donating to the cause, contact the Cross Creek Alpaca Rescue by clicking here.