Irene Bender at first thought one of her pets, Al Alpaca, was sunbathing in pasture at her farm north of Dassel.
But when he didn’t move from that position after a few hours, Bender became worried. She found him with blood on his white furred neck, apparently shot.
“It’s so upsetting to me … that anyone would do that,” Bender said.
She thinks Al was shot sometime on the afternoon of Oct. 11 or the morning of Oct. 12, but most likely the morning of Oct. 12, due to high winds the day before.
“Monday afternoon (Oct.12) I looked out my back window, and I saw the alpaca just stretched out. I should’ve gone down right away to look, but I had this cold,” Bender said, noting Al was stretched out as if he was sunbathing.
“Later in the afternoon I went out to water and I’m going, ‘Oh my goodness, (the alpaca) is still there. It must of died.’ That’s when I walked down there and I saw the blood on the neck,” Bender said. “I was just stunned.”
Bender called the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office and a deputy came out to take a report. When Al was rolled over the deputy confirmed that there was a bullet wound. Bender said it looked as though the bullet entered behind the alpaca’s hip and exited through the neck.
The Sheriff’s Office is looking into several possible scenarios at this time. It’s not confirmed whether Al’s death was intentional or accidental, Sheriff Brian Cruze said.
Both her neighbor and Bender do not allow hunters on their property, she said.
There are currently no suspects, according to Cruze.
“I’m not saying it’s kids,” Bender added. “I think it’s somebody, I feel, who is not a responsible gun owner.”
Bender’s neighbor, who couldn’t be reached for comment, suspected someone shot the alpaca for bragging rights, she said.
“I don’t think whoever did it would come back,” Bender said. “I don’t live in fear.”
Bender’s pasture where her alpacas graze is located behind her home and can’t be seen from the road. “It had to be someone who is on the other person’s land because all of my land is fenced in,” Bender said.
The caliber of gun used or how far away the shot was taken has not been confirmed by the Sheriff’s Office. A neighbor, Bender said, suspects that a deer rifle was used.
Since Al’s death, her other alpaca, Abe, has been more timid and shy than usual, Bender said. He is hesitant to even approach her for food. He also lies down a lot in the pasture, which alpacas do when they are scared, Bender said.
“(Alpacas) are social animals and (mine) have always been together,” Bender said. “I’m looking to get another one as a companion for (Abe).”Al and Abe have been together for the past 15 years, she said.
Bender also has two “bossy” goats named Johnny Cash and June Carter, which makes them unfit companions for alpacas, she said with a laugh.
Bender, who has had her pet alpacas for the past three years, is worried that Abe has been traumatized by the experience because he was also in the pasture when Al was shot.
Abe and Al were sheared every year, Bender said, and their fleece was made into yarn. A friend of Bender’s knitted her a white and cream shawl out of her alpaca’s fleece.
“You live out in the country and you think you’re safe and when something like that happens it’s really disturbing,” Bender said.
The case is currently still under investigation. If the public has any information, contact the Meeker County Dispatch at 693-5400.