Humane Society helps clean up, find home for animals

HARLINGEN — Two previously unwanted llamas have found a home.

Yesterday, the Harlingen Humane Society helped Janis Ortiz take the male and female llamas to a 30-acre ranch off Rangerville Road.

“They’re really gentle,” Ortiz said, “and they’re really cute.”

For Pat Turman-White, the humane society’s president, it’s the first time she ever tried to find a home for llamas.

So since Tuesday, she was busy calling friends with experience with llamas, a domesticated South American pack animal.

“We try to help wherever we can,” she said.

Yesterday afternoon, Chuck Vieh, an ag teacher at Santa Maria High School, led her to Ortiz.

“It was completely unexpected,” said Ortiz, a manager at Tractor Supply Co. in San Benito. “I didn’t wake up this morning and think, ‘I am going to get some llamas.’”

Ortiz said she’ll keep her llamas on Vieh’s ranch until she fences her 10-acre spread north of Valley International Airport.

“They’re going to roam free, enjoying life,” Ortiz said.

But the history of her newly-adopted llamas is sort of a mystery.

Turman-White came to their rescue after George Solis, a Willacy County justice of the peace, told her the llamas needed a home.

Solis said the llamas’ owner died and his children didn’t live in the Rio Grande Valley.

Since November, the llamas stayed on Gloria Flores’ ranch off FM 2845 near Sebastian, where they shared a two-acre pasture with a horse.

But the llamas were eating too much grass.

So Flores’ son-in-law Cruz Gonzalez called Solis to help find them a home.

So yesterday morning, Turman-White pulled a horse trailer into Flores’ driveway.

After Gonzalez roped the llamas, William Van Coppenolle, Turman-White’s co-worker, helped Solis pull and push the stubborn pair into the trailer.

“We’ve picked up horses, dogs, cats, armadillos, ‘possums and raccoons,” Solis said. “Now llamas.”

For the llamas, their next stop was a country doctor.

So Turman-White pulled the trailer to John Montalbano’s clinic near Combes.

Montalbano, a veterinarian who specializes in livestock, said the shaggy llamas needed to be cleaned up.

“In this condition, it’s tough to bring them onto someone’s property and give them a home,” Montalbano said. “They need to be sheered and have their hooves trimmed.”

Montalbano said the llamas, which live to be about 11 years, appeared to be about 4.

“They look to be in good shape,” he said. “Once they’ve been groomed, you’ll have a very handsome animal.”

So Turman-White drove the llamas to the Harlingen Humane Society’s animal shelter.

Outside, she bathed and sheared them.

“It’s great,” she said. “We’re saving two animals.”