Sunday, January 27, 1985

Florida: Pet Llama Kills Wiley Garcia's Pit Bull In 30-Minute Battle After Dog Attacks Its Pregnant Mate

FLORIDA -- Beau always was considered a "gentleman" -- at least as far as South American llamas go.

But, when he valiantly went to rescue one of his pregnant mates from a snarling pit bull dog, Beau put his life on the line.

The dog died under Beau's flailing, 450-pound form.

"I really didn't think Beau had it in him," said Arden Hojas, who owns the llamas with her husband, Marvin. "He has always been so gentle."

The pit bull attack has left the Hajos family shaken and worried about the fate of their exotic pets, which they keep in a pasture adjoining their home in the 3700 block of Northwest 94th Avenue, west of Hollywood.

On Saturday, Beau was resting outside his stable in southwest Broward, and Lulu, his mate, was still in shock. Their owners were not sure whether Beau would live or if the mother-to-be would be able to deliver normally.

"These are very shy and timid animals," Marvin Hajos said. "Something like this is very traumatic. They may, unfortunately, be going to the happy hunting ground for llamas."

Beau, estimated to be worth about $10,000, had been scheduled to go to Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach Saturday to begin breeding with other llamas, Hajos said.

Llamas are related to the camel family, but are smaller and don`t have humps.

Hajos said Beau is considered to be a particularly unusual llama because his genes produce a rare form of a light-colored, spotted llama. Most llamas are dark-colored, Hajos said.

As a result of the run-in with the dog, Beau suffered severe bite injuries to its chest, mouth and leg. "The dog bit right through his leg. You can stick your thumb right through the hole. His lip is hanging open, and he`s got numerous bites all over his body," said Hajos, a part-time breeder.

"He just got through with the vet. If he survives, he'll lose the use of one of his legs. And it may have to be amputated."

The pit bull and three other other neighborhood dogs burrowed under a chain- link fence Friday to enter the pasture where Hajos keeps four llamas, some emus, miniature donkeys, ducks, peacocks and other creatures. No one was home at the time.

Broward Sheriff`s Office spokesman Matt Weissing said the pit bull attacked the female llama, which is in its 11th month of a 12-month pregnancy.

Beau charged to his companion's aid, and the dog unleashed its fury on the would-be rescuer.

A neighbor called police. Just as the deputy arrived, the male llama broke free from the dog's clenching teeth and headed toward its barn.

But, before Beau could reach safety, he was attacked again by the dog, which bit into the llama's chest.

"The dog brought the llama down, and it weighs 450 pounds," Hajos said.

The pit bull died at the end of the 35-minute attack, when it apparently was suffocated by the flailing llama, Hajos said.

The dog's owner, Wiley Garcia, 18, also of the 3700 block of Northwest 94th Avenue, was charged by police with illegally letting the dog run loose, a misdemeanor.

"I'm a lover of all kinds of animals, but those pit bull dogs should be outlawed or allowed only in controlled and certified settings where they can't run loose," said Hajos.

"Those dogs are more of a threat than lions and tigers. Thank God it attacked an animal, which you can replace, instead of a child, which you can't. If it were a child, the results would have been tragic."

(Sun Sentinel - January 27, 1985)