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Faces of the Animal Protection Movement: Profiles in Compassion

Meet "ordinary" people doing extraordinary work for animals

All Animals magazine, September/October 2012

  • Canada geese                                Steve Salt

“By the millions, men and women in America and beyond have set their hearts and minds to the work of preventing cruelty and alleviating the suffering of animals,” writes HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle in The Bond. “…In the animal welfare movement no creature is quite forgotten, and there is no animal whose troubles do not matter to someone.”

We profile a few of these ordinary people with extraordinary commitment to helping a range of species—from sharks and street dogs to geese and llamas and animals raised for food. Whether they are rescuing animals in need, persuading government officials to institute reforms, or helping colleagues adopt animal-friendly policies, their efforts complement The HSUS’s broadscale work—a partnership that will keep our movement going strong in the decades to come.

Read about extraordinary advocates in every issue of All Animals. Subscribe today

  • Alvin Bean         Jimmy Williams/For The HSUS

by Michael Sharp

Alvin Bean, co-founder of Southeast Llama Rescue

Adoption coordinators for 19 states

Helps rescue about 100 llamas each year

Advice for advocates: “Don’t judge. I have seen so much of that, with people like, ‘We’re here to save this animal, and these owners are just bad people.’ … Your job is to improve the welfare of that animal, and judging people and making them feel bad really doesn’t ever work out to improve the situation of the animal in a smooth way.” —Southeast Llama Rescue cofounder Alvin Bean 

Alvin Bean was up early on a Friday morning, ready to dig potatoes to sell at the local farmers market, when she saw the email: An overwhelmed owner was seeking help for her ill llama.

Promptly changing her plans, Bean drove 45 minutes to help Santiago, who was badly in need of shearing, suffering from a 104-degree temperature, and unable to stand. He hadn’t been dewormed. His long toenails were curling under.

Bean is no stranger to such situations. In the late 1990s, she cofounded Southeast Llama Rescue, which has since grown to encompass a network of adoption coordinators, foster homes, and fast-acting volunteer responders from Alabama to Ohio and beyond. “I remember … one of the board members saying, ‘How come we’re up in Wisconsin? We’re supposed to be Southeast Llama Rescue,’ ” says Bean, before adding with a laugh: “I said, ‘Well, it’s southeast of Manitoba. I checked. So it’s OK.’ ”

The group annually helps rescue about 100 llamas, though that number can rise significantly, as it did two years ago when Southeast, Southwest, and Northeast llama rescues teamed to help relocate 590 llamas from a now defunct Montana sanctuary.

After adoptions, Southeast Llama Rescue’s mentor program—established owners educating new ones—can help prevent situations like Santiago’s. Rescued llamas have found new homes as pets, guard animals for sheep, and pack animals for hikers and campers. A few have even been placed with the Fork Mountain Fire Department and Rescue Squad in western North Carolina, where they’ve carried supplies for remote rescues.

As for Santiago, a week after being surrendered, he was recovering nicely on Bean’s farm. “Kudos to these organizations that are doing this on all volunteer [effort], no paid salaries, nothing,” says Bean, who fell in love with llamas while working at a summer camp. “Most of us don’t even get our gas reimbursed. But that’s what we have to do because there really isn’t anything for the llamas.”

"They not only showed up ready to transport the animals, they were obviously very knowledgeable about the species. And I couldn’t be more pleased with what they offered to us." — HSUS Nebraska state director Jocelyn Nickerson, who worked with Southeast (and Southwest) Llama Rescues in August 2011

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