South Central Llama Association
IRC Council Fact Sheet
National Camelid Welfare Group Stresses Education
The National Lama Intervention & Rescue Coordination Council (IRC Council) was formed as a result of discussions at a Camelid Community gathering in Kansas City. The group’s purpose is to provide an efficient system of coordinating llama and alpaca rescue efforts nationwide, help promote camelid welfare through education and open up a larger dialog on camelid welfare within the llama and alpaca community. See also the International Camelid Institute animal rescue site.
Coordinating Camelid Rescue and Re-homing
Most llamas and alpacas are not in need of help and re-homing because of abuse or abandonment (though those kinds of cases certainly do occur). Most cases involve life-altering circumstances that have placed both owners and their animals in precarious situations. Illness, death, divorce or job loss can lead to an inability to properly care for livestock and pets, and camelids in need include llamas and alpacas, registered and unregistered animals, those with show ring credentials and animals of every fiber type and country of origin.
To be able to respond quickly to situations of camelids in need, the IRC Council maintains a contact list that currently has more than 100 names of groups and individuals nationwide who have indicated willingness to support camelid welfare efforts in some way. This may include fostering or adopting llamas and alpacas, providing help with loading and transporting animals, spending time on the telephone coordinating volunteers or providing contact information for others who may be in a position to help. Updating and adding to the list is an ongoing effort.
The council has named regional coordinators for rescue contact. They include:
Though intervention and rescue efforts will of necessity remain primarily local or regional, there are many areas where networking and sharing can eliminate duplication of efforts and provide valuable information and ideas.
Promoting Camelid Education for Specific Audiences
Education is a critical component of a nationwide camelid welfare program and an example of where the IRC Council can play an important role. Because there are a variety of audiences in need of different kinds and levels of education regarding llama and alpaca welfare, the council is developing an overall education plan to identify these audiences and their needs. This includes surveying the materials and resources that already exist, determining additional materials that need to be developed and recommending effective methods of dissemination and distribution.
Though much excellent camelid educational material exists, it isn’t getting into the hands of those who need it. The IRC Council is working to change that. The group wants to tailor camelid welfare information to each specific audience, determine the most effective distribution method for each one and enlist the help of camelid organizations nationwide to make that distribution happen. Designed for animal control authorities, the first educational module will help establish the pattern for a working relationship between the IRC Council and individual camelid organizations.
Encouraging Welfare Discussion within Larger Camelid Community
The IRC Council has encouraged llama and alpaca organizations to designate a contact person between their organization and the council so that a larger dialog within the camelid community might be opened up. The intent is to facilitate discussion of camelid welfare topics on a nationwide basis with sensitivity to particular regional and local needs.
To provide a starting point for welfare discussions, the IRC Council sent a short camelid welfare needs survey in September 2007 to local and regional camelid organizations, as well as a number of rescue groups. A basic assessment of camelid welfare needs across the country to determine needs specific to certain regions and those that may be in common nationwide is forming the basis for rescue and re-homing discussions within the llama and alpaca community at large.
Llama and alpaca owners across the country are now contributing to camelid welfare efforts through the Halter Donation Station program, which was established as the result of a suggestion at the August 2007 Camelid Community gathering. Halter Donation Stations are being set up at various llama and alpaca shows, conferences and other events to give owners the opportunity to donate new and gently used halters and leads for use in camelid welfare and re-homing situations. Almost 300 halters and leads were collected in the fall of 2007 alone. Results from the welfare needs survey are helping the IRC Council’s regional coordinators determine the areas most in need of these halters.
Though the IRC Council tries to maintain regular communication with the camelid community at large through contact with llama and alpaca organizations and publications, information on the council and its activities can always be found on the web site for the International Camelid Institute (ICI) at www.icinfo.org. Results of the camelid welfare needs survey mentioned above, as well as current contact information for the council’s regional coordinators, can be found under the site’s rescue section. Other IRC Council reports are available under the Camelid Community section on ICI’s site.