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Screaming alpacas trigger neighborhood dispute in Escondido

Posted at 11:22 PM, Jul 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-10 13:44:38-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - The screams of a pair of alpacas have triggered a neighborhood dispute in Escondido.

Kelly Thor and her husband moved into a home in the 2000 block of Miller Avenue thinking the zoning laws allowed for alpacas, as it allowed for miniature horses and other livestock.

Though normally calm, Thor admitted that alpacas can scream when they are scared or startled.

"It's just like a dog barking; you can stop them and so that's what we do," Thor said.

She also said they do their best to be respectful of their neighbors when it happens.

Neighbors that spoke to 10News said they had no problems with the alpacas.

"We were surprised when the noise complaint came," Thor told 10News.

After a neighbor filed a noise complaint about Thor’s alpacas, code enforcement showed up at her door with bad news.

"It's not clearly listed out in the ordinance as one of the animals you can have or can't have," Thor said. "So, they had to do their own research and said, 'Oh, we classify them in the cow category, which has goats, and pigs in there.’"

Now, Thor is fighting to keep her alpacas. She posted a petition on her front yard to save the alpacas, and it already has more than 80 signatures. She also has another petition online that has gathered more than 800 signatures.

Thor is hoping to change the law.

"We're trying to change the classification of an alpaca to not fall within the cow category. We want (alpacas) to fall within their own category or fall in with the miniature horse category because of their same size," Thor said.

The application for the amendment process will cost her more than $3,000, so she has started a GoFundMe account to help pay for some of the costs. She hopes to get the application filed with the city of Escondido next week.

It would have to go through the planning commission and eventually the city council.

Escondido planning officials sent the following statement about a potential petition:

"It would be a legislative decision if that request is made. At a staff level the request would have to be measured against unintended consequences (i.e. citywide implications for similarly zoned properties) and the existing complaints. The existing complaints raise an issue regarding land use compatibility. Additional outreach and more information would be needed before staff could make a recommendation to the decision-making bodies."