In recent decades, science has revealed alpacas and llamas are actually quite different.
While we now know more about the fuzzy, long-necked farm animals, the discovery has also unfortunately left one of the creatures in the dust.
Under a section of the Virginia Code, dogs can face penalties if they kill, injure or chase farm animals. That includes livestock such as llamas and — until scientific advancements revealed alpacas fall under a different genus — alpacas, too.
“The alpaca was, until recently, considered part of the genus llama. Scientists now classify the Alpaca as from the genus Vicugna,” said Jason Purse, James City County attorney.
To help protect the county and state’s alpacas, the James City County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass a resolution of support for changes to the Virginia Code regarding alpacas.
The resolution will be added to the board’s legislative packet, urging the General Assembly to add protection for alpacas into law.
“Based on a recent court case that office had, it was discovered that the definition of livestock in Virginia code includes the animals of the genus ‘lama,’” Purse said Tuesday during the meeting. “What I can tell you is that it made us lose the case.”
During the meeting, Supervisor Michael Hipple said his brother’s farm animals, some of which were alpacas, were attacked by two dogs in James City County.
Hipple suggested putting the issue on the board’s legislative agenda in the Jan. 2 Board of Supervisors meeting.
“(The dogs) took them all the way down and had them on the throat and was killing them,” Hipple said, while recounting the story of the attack.
Hipple said the judge discovered the law did not cover alpacas during the case, despite video evidence from Hipple.
“I don’t blame the judge for the technicality,” Hipple said.
The dogs were returned to their owner, who paid the vet bills for the injuries, Hipple said.
Supervisor Sue Sadler thanked Hipple for bringing the issue forward because there are numerous farms in James City County, including alpaca farms.
An alpaca farm in James City County, Fox Wire Farm, was not immediately available for an interview.