Lax animal protection laws leave Dawson llama dead

A llama died in Dawson city two months ago. She was one of three abandoned in the Klondike by their owner.

A llama died in Dawson city two months ago.

She was one of three abandoned in the Klondike by their owner.

In October, Martine Dube left the territory with her boyfriend.

On their way out of town, the couple dumped the llamas off at Sue’s — an acquaintance who has acreage in Henderson.

(The single mother asked not to be identified.)

Sue didn’t know the animals were there.

Four days later, Dawson resident Patti Tourano was talking with a friend and mentioned that Dube had planned to leave the llamas with Sue.

That day, Sue and a friend walked the property looking for them.

They found the animals tethered to an abandoned vehicle.

“(Sue) was shocked,” said Tourano. “They were just about out of hay.”

Sue moved the three llamas to her back field, so they could forage for food.

“Sue knew the woman who dropped them off, but never agreed to look after them,” said Tourano.

Sue called the Dawson Humane Society.

It brought out some straw and started looking for hay for the llamas.

“We tried to assist her, working with the proper authorities,” said shelter co-ordinator Anna Tupakka.

“But we have no legal authority to intervene in an animal complaint case.”

The humane society called the RCMP.

“We tried to facilitate getting the llamas proper care,” said Sgt. Dan Gaudet.

But nothing happened, said Tourano.

Two months after the abandoned llamas were found, one of the animals stopped eating.

Sue was worried they weren’t getting enough water and started mixing it with their food.

Things improved for a while.

But about 10 days ago one llama died.

Shaken, Sue called the RCMP.

She was told if she was feeding them, she was responsible, said Tourano.

Then, Sue learned Dube’s boyfriend was coming to pick up the llamas.

Last week, he loaded the llamas into a simple two-horse trailer without insulation.

Friday, Tourano learned the llamas had been left in the trailer without food and water in downtown Dawson.

She found them in the trailer.

“I got mad and called the RCMP,” she said, noting she fed them that night.

Word of the llamas’ plight reached animal lover Cynthia Fraser in Whitehorse.

She offered to retrieve the animals in an insulated horse trailer.

“The RCMP said, ‘Come get them,’” said Fraser.

She drove north on Saturday with the trailer, but was stopped by RCMP in Stewart Crossing.

The man had taken off with the llamas during the night.

Fraser turned around.

It cost her $200 in gas.

“But it was for a good cause,” she said.

Tourano learned the man was taking the llamas to Guy Sevigny, who rescues horses and other animals.

But, the llamas were still missing on Sunday afternoon.

The man had blown a tire on the trailer at Braeburn, said Fraser.

“So he drove all the way with a flat tire — the poor llamas.”

Llamas are such beautiful animals, said Fraser.

“But these were not beautiful — it’s so sad.

“I’m sad I didn’t get there to save the one that shouldn’t have died.”

Whitehorse farmer Patti Hirsch used to have seven llamas.

But several years ago, she got rid of all but two.

“When I was trying to downsize, I got a call from this lady in Dawson (Dube) who wanted one for fibre (llama wool),” said Hirsch.

“I had one with excellent fibre and (Dube) seemed competent, like she knew what she was doing,” said Hirsch.

But she grew worried when she met Dube’s boyfriend.

“He was supposed to come with a horse trailer,” she said. “But instead he hauled the llama away in the back of his pick-up.”

After learning about the abandoned llamas in Dawson, Hirsch felt “totally sick.”

“Because my little girl was up there.”

One of the surviving animals was hers.

“She was such a beautiful llama,” said Hirsch.

Dube had six llamas in Dawson. In the last year, four died.

“Losing four animals just doesn’t happen,” said Hirsch.

“Llamas live to be 35. It’s a terrible tragedy.”

They’re gentle souls, she said.

“And they hum to each other — that’s their way of communicating.”

This weekend, Sevigny will build the llamas a shelter.

They have an acre of land and have already set up their household in a stand of trees, he said.

The llamas have warm water. Sevigny calls it tea. And one llama is already following him around whenever he’s in the paddock.

Dube’s boyfriend paid Sevigny to care for the animals until April.

“I don’t know what the story is and I don’t want to get involved,” said Sevigny.

But Hirsch doesn’t want her old llama going back to Dube.

“Not over my dead body,” she said.

In the past, Hirsch was part of a horse rescue where a man had starved the animal near to death to get back at his ex-girlfriend.

The territory’s animal protection laws are terrible, said Hirsch.

“We need a guy with a badge who has all the paperwork and can follow through on complaints,” she said.

“We need this in place so we can start prosecuting.”

“We looked into the matter (with the llamas) and based on the information so far we won’t be laying a criminal charge,” said Sgt. Gaudet.