SOQUEL (KPIX 5) -- A Soquel neighborhood is on edge after two pit bulls mauled and killed a herd of alpacas that have brought joy to a local preschool of kids for several years.
The alpacas' owner, Nancy Cohen and her husband, Harvey, happened to be on vacation when their animals were mauled inside a fenced corral. The person who was supposed to feed them and the rest of the Cohen's animals that day discovered the carcasses as well as the two pit bulls still on property.
"She said it looked like a war zone," said Cohen.
She added that she's unsure how the dogs were able to get inside the fenced area where the alpacas have never been the target of any wildlife or other animals in the neighborhood.
"I was heartbroken," said Cohen. "I just felt so much for the alpacas and what they had gone through."
Cohen, who has run the Rocking Horse Ranch Daycare for 32 years with her husband, said she lost five alpacas altogether during last Tuesday's attack. Three of them were adults and two were baby alpacas. Two of the alpacas, Snow White and her baby Rosie, are in critical condition.
Three male alpacas were able to escape injuries.
"All of their moms were killed," she said. "We don't know if the moms were protecting them or if the boys were able to escape."
She said the loss of the alpacas has been felt not just by her and her husband, but also by the parents and children at their daycare and the community as well. Her neighbors, who have gotten to know the alpacas over the years, set up a small memorial in honor of the animals that died.
But Cohen also said the attack has left some of the residents and parents of her school concerned. She said the pit bulls were returned to their owner. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, county animal services are limited on what they can do in a case of animal-on-animal aggression.
"I feel for the owner of these dogs because I'm sure that they never intended for this to happen," said Cohen. "At the same time, I really understand the community's concern, and I think in terms of livestock, I think it's a reasonable concern."
Cohen estimates the damage could be in the tens of thousands of dollars, because of the ongoing veterinary bills and the potential money she could've made from the alpacas' fiber or fleece.
Now, she's not taking any chances with the herd that she has left and is locking them up in a pen with walls.
"They're really a part of our whole family," she said. "It's been very hard."
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