Tuesday, December 7

‘It’s agony’: Geronimo’s owner has until 5 pm on Friday to sacrifice the alpaca | Animals

Gerónimo the alpaca looked happy on Friday. Its owner, veterinary nurse Helen Macdonald, who has fought for four years to save her life, much less.

“I’m still standing, that’s the best I can say,” he said as the clock ticked toward a terrible deadline. “It’s agony, to be honest. Mental torture. They hope I’m going to break down. They are bullying me. But I’m not going to give in. “

After losing the last leg of a sinuous court battle to prevent Geronimo from being cracked down this week, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) gave Macdonald until 5 p.m. Friday to do the deed herself.

She has made it perfectly clear that she was not going to do Defra’s “dirty work” and take the life of what she insists is a perfectly healthy animal, so the inevitable next stage seems to be the arrival of men or women in a van. that they will. euthanize the eight-year-old camelid.

Geronimo has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, but Macdonald argues that the regime is flawed and has pleaded with Defra to get the camelid back under control.

The end appeared to be near for Geronimo when on Wednesday, away from his field in south Gloucestershire, a London High Court judge rejected a last-minute attempt to save him.

Macdonald has said that he will not break the law to stop whoever comes for the animal from doing what they have to do. But he has also said that he will not help them and that a live CCTV camera placed over his pen will broadcast what is happening to the world.

She also has a band of supporters ready to place a “human shield” around the creature, if possible without breaking the law. “I’m not saying how many we will have here,” he said. “I don’t want to give them an advantage.”

Normal life has long been on hold for Macdonald. She raises alpacas and generally runs training courses for people who want to own one. She sends alpaca wool to artisans in Devon who turn it into yarn and the rougher parts go to someone in Nottingham who uses it to fill quilts and pillows. That side of his business has had to take a backseat due to Geronimo.

The stress is clearly taking its toll on Macdonald. “I am a law abiding citizen, but they are trying to break me,” she said. It is also affecting Macdonald’s 84-year-old mother. “He doesn’t sleep at night,” he said.

Macdonald said he planned to spend the day trying to prove Defra wrong and investigating new legal avenues with his lawyers, but said he had the impression that some people were waiting for the “meat cart”, and perhaps the “riot police. “. to get.

There has been a great deal of public support, with more than 130,000 people signing a petition calling on Boris Johnson to stop the murder.

Macdonald said she and Defra were at a standstill, but claims there is still a way out as she believes the government could order Geronimo to be kept alive and used for humanitarian testing. “Then we would learn something. I like George Eustice [the environment secretary] let him come, sit down and let’s talk about this. “

The terrible wait may not continue. Defra has vowed not to use his court order before 5 p.m. Friday, but it remains valid until September 4.

Defra said: “We sympathize with the situation of Ms Macdonald, as with all the animals affected by this terrible disease. It is for this reason that the test results and options for Geronimo have been carefully considered by Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency and their veterinary experts, in addition to passing several stages of exhaustive legal scrutiny.

“Bovine tuberculosis is one of the biggest animal health threats we face today, causing devastation and distress to farming families and rural communities across the country, while costing the taxpayer around £ 100 million each year. Therefore, while no one wants to euthanize animals, we must do everything possible to combat this disease, stop its spread and protect the livelihoods of those affected. “


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