Delegate files bill to change alpaca classification in Virginia code

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JAMES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia laws surrounding alpacas may be changing. 

Back in October, two dogs attacked three alpacas on Jolly Pond Road.  10 On Your Side spoke with the family that owns the alpacas. They are upset that the charges against the dog owner were dismissed, because alpacas are not considered livestock.  

The James City County Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution urging the General Assembly to modify Virginia’s code to include alpacas in the livestock classification.

On Monday, Delegate Brenda Pogge filed a bill in Richmond proposing the change.

One alpaca farmer we spoke with says it’s not just about the law, it’s about responsible pet owners. 

“We are the largest alpaca farm in James City County,” said John Ballentine, who owns Fox Wire Farm.  

The more than 100 alpacas that live on his farm are a huge part of his business and part of his family.  So when the three alpacas were attacked on Jolly Pond Road, he took note.

“It struck home,” said Ballentine.

He watched the case play out in court. It was eventually dismissed, because according to Virginia Code, alpacas are not considered livestock.

“I was fat, dumb and happy, sunshine, rainbows and lollipops thinking that all my livestock here was classified under the Commonwealth’s ruling of being livestock,” Ballentine said. “They are not.”

The ruling prompted the James County Board of Supervisors to unanimously pass a resolution asking lawmakers in Richmond to amend the code and add alpacas to the livestock category. One member on the James City County Board of Supervisors is the brother of the man who owns the alpacas that were attacked back in October.

Ballentine says the change would be good for business.  He said, “I would like to see the rule changed because then, if I suffer a loss, it makes my legal options a lot more viable and more potent to seek financial relief from something that destroys my livelihood.”

He also says its goes beyond a ruling, it’s about responsible pet ownership.

“We have a problem,” Ballentine said. “If we could bring some more awareness to it and maybe tighten up the laws and regulations and people just take, as a responsible pet owner, that’s all we’re asking.”

Ballentine has already taken precautions by using an electric fence, cameras and lights, but he’s hoping this next step will mean his measures won’t be as necessary. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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