“I’ve had so much to do with death,” says Alpaca Therapy founder Nils Lantzke, his voice choking with tears, “Mimosa had helped so many other people but there was nothing I could do for her.”
Last night an unleashed dog savaged Mimosa the therapy alpaca, breaking both her front legs, biting them to the bone and injuring the terrified animal so badly that she had to be euthanised. Nils says the most shocking thing is that while the attack was taking place the dog’s owner filmed it on his phone.
Nils and a friend were walking Mimosa and fellow therapy alpaca Hercules on the bike path adjacent to Baldwin Drive in Giralang at about 6.45 pm when they saw a man approaching with an unleashed dog described as “a black Staffy”. Nils and the alpacas moved onto the grass to avoid the dog but the owner approached despite being asked to keep clear.
“The dog launched into Hercules first. He’s still a young one and he went into classic attack mode on his hind legs with his front legs folded up. I was yelling at the bloke but he wouldn’t do anything, he had his phone out.
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“I had a stick and was whacking the dog, and then the dog went for Mimosa who is a tiny little thing. My friend Catherine had to let go of the lead or she would have been pulled to the ground herself.”
The badly injured animal ran away and but nearby residents helped Nils to track her down. “She’d tried to get home. She was lying on the grass at the end of our street in terrible pain. There was a lot of blood. I got a blanket to cover her because of the shock while we sat with her and called the vet.
“You know, I’ve been visiting the hospice with the alpacas for 12 years. I have seen so many people dying. but I sat there next to Mimosa crying because she has helped so many other people but I couldn’t do anything for her.”
Mimosa’s injuries were devastating and she was euthanised last night. This morning, Nils and his wife took her to a friend’s farm where she’ll be buried, leaving rosebuds with her body.
“She was like my daughter and Hercules is my adopted son. I bought her six years ago and she was wild as anything. I suggested to the owner that if I trained her for therapy work, she’d be more saleable, but after I’d worked with her I didn’t want her to go to another home. So I put her on layby and bought her as a Christmas present to myself.
“She did all that work at the hospice and in the hospital’s Mental Health Unit. There are young women in there who have been through dreadful stuff, and they don’t talk when they come in. They’d take Mimosa for a walk and she’d start them talking.
“She worked with autistic kids and a girl with epilepsy who had grand mal seizures and couldn’t be left alone. Mimosa would physically support her and protect the girl with her body when she had to sit down.”
Nils says that Hercules has been badly frightened by the attack and slept near the gate last night, hoping Mimosa would come home and crying out for her.
Nils will search for another young female alpaca whom he can train as a therapy animal and companion for Hercules. But the attack won’t stop his therapy work. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years now including 12 at the hospice. It’s a roadblock, but it won’t finish me.”
At 66, he’s devoted to helping others although he concedes he’d sometimes like some help with walking the animals and caring for them. Nils says he is “eternally grateful” for the support and care the community has shown him.
“I was really angry last night, but anger doesn’t get you anywhere in a case like this, it’s a wasted emotion. I was hurting enough already and to be honest, I feel empty with the shock. I just hope his dog doesn’t hurt or kill somebody else.”
Alpaca Therapy has appealed for anyone with information, including anyone who sees the video of the attack, to let them know or contact Domestic Animal Services.
Alpaca Therapy can be reached via Facebook.