I am sad to be bringing you yet another story of animal abuse.
This one comes from Falls City, a small community in Oregon, located about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio, with a population of under 700.
The owners of Jocelyn’s Alpacas Ranch have each been indicted on 18 animal abuse charges after more than 200 starving or dead alpacas were found on their Falls City farm in December 2013.
Alpacas are rare and exotic creatures that have been considered a treasure of the Andes Mountains for more than 6,000 years. They look like small llamas or long-necked camels with no humps. Easily domesticated, alpacas are friendly, gentle and curious.
And yet they suffered this terrible abuse.
The Polk County Itemizer-Observer reports that Jocelyn and Robert Silver were arraigned two weeks ago on identical charges, which include one count of felony first-degree animal neglect, one count of second-degree animal neglect and 16 counts of misdemeanor first-degree animal neglect.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office began looking into conditions on the farm after receiving complaints from neighbors and the Animal Legal Defense Fund in early December.
An initial investigation of the property found evidence of malnutrition in the animals.
“In this pasture there was no green forage growing anywhere,” wrote Deputy John Kincaid in an affidavit requesting a search warrant. “The trees in this pasture appeared to be devoid of bark (as high as the animals could reach).”
Once a warrant was granted for a “herd health check” with a licensed veterinarian, investigators found even more evidence of mistreatment, including dozens of dead alpacas and many others that were emaciated and weak.
What a horrible, horrible tragedy, but such tales are not uncommon.
Too Many Stories of Animal Abuse
Texas has been gaining attention for the way it treats animals lately. Last July, Care2 brought you the report of more than 200 animals who were rescued from shocking conditions in the state.
Earlier that month, there was the story of the deadly dog camp in Southern California, where several hundred dogs are believed to have died.
Last year there was the tale of puppy mill breeders abandoning 92 dogs on the side of the road.
And last December, in what was perhaps the most shocking story of animal cruelty, 20 cats were tortured and burned before being murdered.
In Falls Church, the herd of possibly more than 200 alpacas was restricted to only three acres on the 20-acre property, according to documents filed with the petition. Some hay and yard clippings were found on the property, but insufficient to feed all the animals.
Investigators also believed the animals resorted to eating twigs, plastic, pieces of their shelters and even their own droppings.
When deputies discovered 18 dead alpacas on December 13, they took seven of them for forensic testing. The results indicated the animals died from starvation.
The sheriff’s office took the remaining alpacas into custody on December 23. On the same day they found another 30 dead animals, and two more had to be euthanized because they were too weak to stand. For now, Polk County is feeding and caring for 175 alpacas, which remain on the farm.
Jocelyn and Robert Silver are scheduled to next be in court for a pretrial conference on February 11.
Why Do People Become Animal Abusers?
It is hard to understand how anyone can knowingly inflict such cruelty on animals, but such violent acts have long been recognized as indicators of a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to animal abuse. There is a mounting body of evidence about the link between such acts and serious crimes such as illegal firearms possession, drug trafficking, gambling, spousal and child abuse, rape and homicide.
But recognizing the links between animal abuse and people abuse does not solve the problem of cruelty to animals, although thankfully 49 states now have felony provisions for animal cruelty. (South Dakota is the only state without one.)
Let’s hope that justice is done in this tragic case of animal abuse.
Editor’s note: This post originally stated that this took place in Texas. It actually took place in Oregon. We have changed this article to reflect that. We regret the error.
Photo Credit: Thinkstock