A Blair woman found guilty of animal neglect after an alpaca she owned died was sentenced to probation Tuesday in Washington County District Court.
Shari A. McWilliams, 56, pleaded no contest Dec. 3 to the amended charge of abandonment and/or cruelty to animals, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Judge John E. Samson sentenced McWilliams to six months probation. He did not impose an order which would have restricted McWilliams' ability to own animals.
McWilliams and Kevin R. Christoffersen were charged with felony animal cruelty in January 2019 after Christoffersen reported the neglect. He told authorities that he and McWilliams were separating and he no longer lived there. However, he had access to a detached shop on the property.
Near the shop is a small pen and shelter where McWilliams kept 16 alpacas. Christoffersen said he had been feeding them when McWilliams provided food and straw. Christoffersen said the food supply ran out during the first week of November and the animals hadn't eaten since.
According to an arrest affidavit, a deputy observed the alpacas in a small pen that was divided into three sections. The first stall, which had one alpaca in it, had no shelter, food or dry area to stand or sleep. It did, however, have water.
The second stall had 10 to 12 alpacas with shelter, water, but no food or dry place.
The third stall had five alpacas, no food and deep mud. One alpaca was on the ground, its head stuck in the mud and unable to move on its own power.
A 2-year-old male alpaca was euthanized, according to the report, after he was examined by a Blair veterinarian. The vet also reported the other alpacas appeared to have been under some form of neglect as early as June or July.
Chief Deputy Erik Petersen said the neglect was a result of the breakup.
“The animals, much like children, fell victim to divorce,” he said. “We didn't see that this was intentional.”
McWilliams' attorney said she has taken responsibility for the neglect.
“As you well know, the bottom line is the animals needed someone to step up and take care of them,” Samson told McWilliams.
Charges against Christoffersen were later dismissed.