Farmer Irene Bender was left heartbroken when she discovered one of her pet alpacas shot to death earlier this month.
She told the Litchfield Independent Review that she saw the animal, named "Al," stretched out on the ground and thought he was sunbathing, only to realize when she later went to check on him he had blood running down his neck. She believes he is likely to have been shot on the afternoon of Oct. 11 or the morning of Oct. 12.
"It’s so upsetting to me … that anyone would do that," she told the newspaper, adding: "You live out in the country and you think you’re safe and when something like that happens it’s really disturbing."
Bender had two alpacas, the other – named "Abe" – has been more timid since Al's death, and she's now looking to get another alpaca to be Abe's companion.
A picture of Irene with Al was posted on the Real Life in Dassel & Cokato Facebook group as an appeal for information, and it was met with horror by group members.
One commenter mentioned there had been a spate of criminality in the area recently, including vandalism and thefts.
On the Litchfield Independent Review Facebook page, meanwhile, a commenter called Suzzi Shroeder said she lives in the same area and claims her cat was shot while out in the front yard at around the same time that the alpaca may have been shot. Fortunately, the cat survived.
Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze told the newspaper that his office is looking into "several possible scenarios," adding they are not sure whether Al's death was intentional or accidental.
Anyone with information can call the sheriff's office at 320-693-5400.