Therapy Llamas Get the Boot in San Diego County

For months, the Laughing Llama ranch in Fallbrook has been offering a therapy outlet for people with Alzheimer’s, autism, and other conditions. But after a series of complaints from residents, the county has ordered the ranch to close. The Laughing Llama has been given a date of May 15 to cease operations and move most of its llamas, alpacas, and goats off the property.

Founder Shanna Daley is heartbroken. She insists she contacted the county before she moved in, confirmed her plans were legal, and then invested money in the property.

“When I called the county in July of 2020 to find out if the business was possible, the zoning department told me that Fallbrook required no permit and no business license," Daley told the Village News. "They are the ones that told me after I explained the business I planned to open that I was zoned agricultural, and it was legal and no other paperwork was required. Fallbrook follows the San Diego County zoning guidelines, so I did not look into it any further."

Daley has since been informed her business requires a major use permit that could take up to two years to obtain and requires a $12,000 deposit. Her other option is an administrative permit, which is available only to non-profits.

Daley started the ranch to help her 84-year-old grandmothers’ struggles with dementia. And while the extra income has helped her family, she’s willing to take the hit if that’s what it takes.

"I will die if I have to lose any of my animals; it's just not something I can handle. These animals are my children, and I am willing to shut my business down in order to keep them. I just have to pray the county gives me an administrative permit and I find an organization to partner with soon so we can stay open."