Geronimo: Alpaca experts complain to PM - and say he was 'dragged kicking and screaming' to his death

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Alpaca experts have written a letter of complaint to the government and have vowed to take further action over the way Geronimo was dragged from his pen, bundled in a horsebox and killed.

The British Alpaca Society has complained to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Environment Secretary George Eustice, and various other government officials over the way the animal was removed from his owner's farm.

It was ruled that Geronimo had to be put down after he twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, but his owner, Helen Macdonald, claims these were false positives.

Police officers and staff from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) arrived at Ms Macdonald's farm near Wickwar in South Gloucestershire on 31 August.

Geronimo was tied with a white rope before being scanned for a microchip and then pulled through a field to a waiting trailer.

Less than 90 minutes after leaving his home, DEFRA confirmed he had euthanised by staff from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Chairwoman of the British Alpaca Society, Sue Loach, condemned the way Geronimo was removed from his pen, saying staff were "dragging him, kicking and screaming" before leaving him tethered, standing up in the back of the trailer.

Ms Loach said she has now received an unsigned reply from APHA which stated: "Removal operations were carefully planned, conducted and included consideration of Geronimo's welfare."

The letter also said he was transported under "veterinary supervision" and he "arrived at the destination in the same condition as when he left the farm.

"This was a difficult and high-pressure situation for all involved. We can assure you that our staff did all in their power to protect Geronimo's welfare and treat him with dignity", it added.

However, Ms Loach claims APHA "failed to correctly put a halter on him" and tied him up in a "dangerous manner" inside the trailer.

She said: "APHA clearly don't seem to have witnessed the same events that I did.

"How can they claim there was protection of welfare?

"The British Alpaca Society will not let this appalling unprofessionalism go unchallenged and further action will be taken."

Geronimo's owner has been campaigning against his destruction after claiming the two positive test results were false negatives and called for him to be tested a third time or allowed to live to aid research into the disease.

The veterinary nurse argued that the Enferplex test was fundamentally flawed and said the alpaca tested positive because he had repeatedly been primed with tuberculin - a purified protein derivative of bovine TB bacteria.

"I want the vets concerned in Tuesday's avoidable cruelty disciplined according to the evidence from the British Alpaca Society statement," Ms Macdonald said.

"They could have brought a head collar or used his own, which was in the barn. Alpacas should never be tied up and they should know that.

"They should have sent competent, caring vets who understand and are confident in handling alpacas.

"Truly heartbroken that members of my own profession could let us down in the most cruel way possible."

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: "This is a terribly sad situation and our sympathies remain with all those affected by this devastating disease."

A protest outside DEFRA HQ in central London is planned for Wednesday.

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