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To the Rescue

February 15, 2011

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February 15, 2011

The arrival of 33 llamas rescued from a Montana animal sanctuary that had shut its doors became a prime teaching opportunity in recent weeks for veterinary students. It was also a chance for the Camelid Clinical Service of the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to shine. 

Julie Dechant, DVM, MS, DACVS, is an assistant professor of clinical equine surgery and the faculty adviser to the Camelid Medicine Club. She learned of the animals' plight in January during the UC Davis Camelid Symposium. Llama rancher Joy Pedroni, a symposium attendee, was working with the Llama Association of North America to find new homes for 600 llamas from the Montana facility. She'd found homes in California for 30 male llamas and knew that they would need veterinary attention after being neglected for months as the sanctuary closed down. 

The First Stop

Dechant arranged to make the Large Animal Clinic the llamas' first stop before going to their new homes. It was the first time the hospital had taken in so many llamas at once. The first group of 21 llamas arrived February 1, and 12 more came in the next week.

Learning by Doing

Dechant wrangled llamas, identified and treated their medical concerns, and supervised the overall care of the animals. She oversaw castration procedures, working with faculty and residents in anesthesia and equine surgery who instructed students. Veterinary students performed castrations, monitored anesthesia, trimmed overgrown toenails and fighting teeth, and vaccinated and wormed the llamas. 

Members of the Camelid Medicine Club recruited dozens of volunteers to care for the animals during their stay. They also raised money, donating $500. The Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association contributed $2,000 to help defray the cost of services.

Llama/Alpaca Services Available 365 Days a Year

The Camelid Clinical Service provides medical, surgical, reproductive and diagnostic services for alpacas and llamas. Board-certified veterinary specialists, resident veterinarians and staff deliver the highest quality veterinary care while training tomorrow's large animal practitioners and veterinary specialists. The service provides emergency care 365 days a year.

The UC Davis Camelid Symposium, sponsored by the California Alpaca Breeders Association and hosted by the Camelid Medicine Club, takes place in January and is noted for providing seminar tracks suitable for veterinarians, veterinary students and camelid owners.   

You can help: To donate funds to help cover treatment costs of rescued animals, please visit