Friday May 25, 2012

BECKET -- It's safe to say that Karen and Mark Karlberg will make sure the latch on the gate to the pen where they keep their two llamas will never be left open again.

Shaggy and Scooby Doo, the couple's two adult pet llamas, escaped from the Karlbergs' home on Becket West Road on Wednesday night when the latch on the gate to their pen was accidentally left open at feeding time.

Luckily, this story has a happy ending: The two llamas were found 12 hours later on Thursday morning, less than a mile from their house.

Shaggy and Scooby Doo were hanging out in a pasture behind a residence on Andrews Corner Road. A passerby spotted them around 9 a.m. Thursday and called Becket Police.

"I had a feeling that [a pasture is] where they'd go," said Karen, who is the community outreach coordinator for the Berkshire Humane Society in Pittsfield. "They don't like wooded areas. They like pastures more."

Becket Police Officer Kris topher McDonough used his cruiser to escort the animals home along busy Route 20 to ensure they wouldn't run out into traffic.

"They kind of almost knew their way," McDonough said.

This is the only time that Shaggy and Scooby Doo have run away since the Karlbergs adopted them last December.

The llamas took off after 8-year-old Shaggy apparently pushed the unlocked gate open, and 6-year-old Scooby Doo followed him. Both llamas are neutered males.

"They're very smart," said Karen, noting the llamas figured out how to open the gate once the latch was left open. "They both took off like a shot."

The Karlbergs pursued the two llamas, who both weigh between 350 and 400 pounds, and called both Becket Police and State Police from the Lee barracks for assistance. But efforts to locate them overnight Wednesday failed.

"I ended up walking down the road along Route 20 literally until midnight," Karen said.

She was afraid the animals might cross the nearby Mas sachusetts Turnpike, then go into October Mountain State Forest where they would be hard to find.

"They're very, very fast," she said.

As Wednesday night went on, Karen prayed for their safety.

"Lots and lots of prayers," she said. "Didn't sleep a wink."

Officer McDonough, who came on duty at 8 a.m., said a passerby traveling on Route 20 spotted Shaggy and Scooby Doo by Andrews Corner Road and called authorities about an hour after his shift started. McDonough said he picked up Karen and drove her to the site. Shaggy and Scooby Doo appeared calm, Karen said.

"They were together," she said. "They were actually having fun."

Karen, McDonough, and two others managed to escort Shaggy and Scooby Doo out of the pasture, back on the road, and all the way home.

"It was almost like driving cattle I guess," McDonough said.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6224.
On Twitter: @tonydobrow