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Geronimo the TB-positive alpaca – Initial post-mortem results

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There has been widespread media reporting of the post-mortem results of the alpaca Geronimo which has twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis (TB) using highly accurate tests.

Experienced veterinary pathologists from the Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency  completed the initial post-mortem examination and found a number of TB-like lesions. It is therefore not true to say no signs of TB were found.

A lesion is an area of tissue that has been damaged through disease. In some cases, the microscopic lesions of TB in the affected organs can take a very long time to progress to larger, visible lesions, if at all. It is therefore significant to find these signs.

Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Christine Middlemiss said:

We have completed the initial post-mortem examination of Geronimo.

“A number of TB-like lesions were found and in line with standard practice these are now undergoing further investigation.

“These tests include the developing of bacteriological cultures from tissue samples which usually takes several months - we would expect to complete the full post-mortem and culture process by the end of the year .

Mycobacterium bovis can be cultured (grown)  in the laboratory from clinical samples, usually from tissue samples collected post mortem. The culture process takes some time as the bTB bacterium grows slowly. It requires special expertise and safety facilities, which means that culture can only be carried out in specialist laboratories, and it is not always successful even in lab conditions.   It is only after growth in the laboratory that the species of Mycobacterium isolated can be identified.

bTB is a dangerous zoonotic disease. Our control strategy seeks to eliminate the disease in suspected animals to protect public health. Further information on the need to eradicate bovine TB can be found in our APHA science blog.

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  1. Comment by Janet Henderson posted on

    The fact is that we will not know one way or another whether Geronimo had bTB until the bacteriological cultures are completed. We may not even be 100% sure then. This specific case has opened many people's eyes to the extent to which the tests used by DEFRA are a matter for scientific debate and has caused us to ask whether DEFRA should be operating in a way that requires the culling of many thousands of animals on the basis of such tests. The UK's policy in controlling bTB is currently less effective than other countries' policies. (See, for example, Allen, Sauce & Byrne 'Bovine TB in Britain and Ireland' which gives an overview of the history of UK policy .)

    A second fact is that APHA officials handled an alpaca over a period of many minutes in a manner that appeared to amount to animal cruelties defined in the Animal Welfare Act 2006. These are officials who are charged with promoting animal welfare. The actions of others may or may not have made the situation difficult but the officials and their superiors were responsible for what they did to Geronimo on the day. Because DEFRA and APHA are refusing to respond to requests for information about how Geronimo died, they are compounding an impression there may be something to hide. There should be an investigation. The public are concerned that animal welfare standards are not what they should be and are concerned about all species, cattle, badgers, alpacas, others. We watched APHA officials and police do nothing to stop a terrified animal being suffocated by an incorrectly fitted halter and tied up in a dangerous position: that image will not fade quickly.

    Finally, in my experience, DEFRA and APHA do not respond to complaints. In contrast, the Avon and Somerset Police and MPs have responded promptly.

  2. Comment by Miss G. posted on

    I will never believe that he was positive for TB. Why did he have no symptoms after four years of carrying it. Please explain that to the public because we would really like to know and to have some sort of justification for killing the poor creature. If this cannot be explained, then I'm afraid the public will have no alternative but to suspect that Defra have lied and are now trying to cover their tracks. As no independent vet was present at the post mortem, Defra are in a position to make these results say whatever they want them to. There is no proof now because the animal was cremated. This has all been handled in a despicable way and the people in control ought to hang their heads in shame.

  3. Comment by Sydney Trant posted on

    This comment facility has been taken over by orchestrated mostly urban campaigners who really want to believe that Geronimo was not infected with TB, but 2x positives make it a certainty that he has been exposed to it. TB can be 'walled up' in the body, as it appears in this case. But he had to go, the TB could have broken out at any time.

    The scenario of his collection by Defra, where the owner disappears but had publicly said for the week or two prior that she would turn him out into a paddock with 4 other identical looking alpacas, (which other people did on HER instruction in HER absence) shows a severe disregard for the stress imposed on Geronimo in his final hour, and was disgraceful. All for the photo opportunity of him being 'dragged off'.
    All his stablemates must now be tested after 60 days (as for cows) and MANDATORY TB testing for ALL alpaca herds should be invoked by rule of law.

  4. Comment by Stacey posted on

    I notice there are probably a lot of Defra staff on the comment section , talking bull ,are you brainwashed into I must protect Defra at all costs or I’ll be out of a job. Remember people cameras don’t lie and grow a spine.

  5. Comment by Fiona posted on

    There have been too many alpacas destroyed because DEFRA claimed they had bTB, only to find upon post-mortem, that they didn’t have it. It is a known fact that testing for TB in camelids is unreliable. How hard would it have been to allow Helen MacDonald’s Geronimo one more test (without him being injected with TB protein first), he deserved a proper test. Helen also should have been able to have an independent vet present when they did the post-mortem. DEFRA are just afraid that they are wrong, and that it will open the floodgates for lots of other farmers to dispute test results. It would have been far easier to test him properly, while he was alive, instead of killing him first.

    Also, I want to know why DEFRA are not answerable to an independent organisation, someone that over-sees their work, to make sure things are done properly. Instead, they hold all the cards, and nobody is allowed to dispute them. If a member of the public had witnessed somebody committing cruelty to an animal (and let’s face it, it was cruel, the way they dragged him away, without a correctly fitted harness, and strung him up in a horse box - the world saw it on live streaming, so they can’t deny it), they would have been prosecuted. Yet DEFRA seem to be a law unto themselves - where’s the justice it in that?

    It’s not just “one fluffy alpaca”, it’s a sentient being, which deserved fairness, kindness and justice. It’s not just alpaca owners that will now mistrust DEFRA, farmers of cattle etc., must be asking themselves questions. What about the badgers? They are culling them even after this. Where is your heart DEFRA? Why not hold your hands up and admit your mistakes, if you’d done that at the start, you would have been better thought of. DEFRA you are a governmental department, the government are voted in by the electorate and they can just as easily be voted out again!

  6. Comment by J de Preux posted on

    Disgusting, barbaric and cruel treatment of Geronimo and his owner. A simple additional accurate test for camelids would have cost far less than the thousands spent on brutalising him in front of millions of witnesses all over the world. Well done post Brexit on showing the world what Britain’s animal welfare policies are or rather are not. You should be utterly ashamed. You have proved yourselves and indeed the whole Government to be untrustworthy, ill-informed and dishonourable so no one is going to believe your lies. An infected animal would not be in such good health as Geronimo clearly was. Killing killing killing is not the answer. So many innocent healthy animals killed in the name of infection control!! The Badger hunt (do not hide behind the word “cull”) is pointless and cruel you have no more right to breath the air than they do and live peacefully. Vaccination is the way forward. People are the only ones killing this planet. Geronimo’s death must see an end to the current process of TB testing and an independent review into the whole process for cattle as well as Camelids.

  7. Comment by Phil Lane posted on

    Would be lovely if Deathra followed the science but given the government gave up on a human virus the chances of them following the science for animals are minimal

    Clean up your act then get farmers to clean up their act

  8. Comment by Gill Turner posted on

    Absolutely wicked how you treated Geronimo dragging him away on a rope. Tying him up in a horse trailer. He needed a special halter and to be seated. He was seen not been able to breathe and crying and screaming. Your vets not fit to practice and should be struck off. The testing is all wrong and not suitable for camelids you used Bovine on Geronimo. You cause distress to farmers. Defra you need to reorganise bot fit for purpose. G Eustice must go. Christine Middlemiss must go.

  9. Comment by Julie Golden posted on

    No amount of spin will change the facts that DEFRA have killed a perfectly healthy animal, purely because his owner had the guts to challenge them on their Bovine TB tests, which are obviously flawed.

    The so-called "vets" that dragged poor Geronimo away from his home should be struck off. That was animal cruelty at its very worst.

    Christine Middlemiss and George Eustice should resign - they are both not fit for purpose.

  10. Comment by Juliette Weaver posted on

    Why has there been so much secrecy surrounding the post mortem? Surely an independent witness would serve to protect your reputation. Well of course that would be unless you had something to hide.

    On another matter, what are your thoughts on how Geronimo was handled on the day he was taken? Is this acceptable treatment for a sentient fellow animal?

  11. Comment by Linda Whittern posted on

    Is this blog still taking posts on the Geronimo case and what it shows about DEFRA's approach to bTB testing please? I know several people (including me) have tried as yet unsuccessfully to add posts on more recent developments.

  12. Comment by A. Pauze posted on

    Don't believe a word of what Defra says. Things done in secret are always highly suspect. Middlemiss is not credible, she should resign. So should Eustace. They bring the whole department into disrepute.

  13. Comment by Cecilia posted on

    Defra will never admit that they are wrong. They are too scared of the consequences. Where are the whistle-blowers when you need one?!

  14. Comment by J Key posted on

    I notice that you carefully do not say where these so called "TB like lesions" were found. But you have said that nothing was found in his lungs which is what you would expect in an animal with TB. Lesions do not necessarily indicate TB as you well know (or should do), but to put this information forward as almost conclusive proof that Geronimo did have TB is dishonest and wrong. There are many reasons for lesions in different organs which are nothing to do with TB, so to suggest so strongly that this is proof is outrageous. Do you really think that everyone is so stupid that they will fall for all the "spin" you are putting out. And heading your report "Geronimo the TB positive alpaca" is nothing short of devious. The least you should do is to say that there are no conclusive results that indicate TB and you are doing further tests. But you are trying to manipulate the publicity to create a perceived truth that Geronimo had TB when you know full well it is not true. I am disgusted at the way DEFRA has behaved throughout this whole case. All that was asked for was another test. What possible reason is there not to allow it. Oh yes, because it shines a light on the many thousands of healthy animals that have been needlessly killed on suspicion of TB after using an inadequate testing system. The arrogance is mind blowing and the refusal to discuss or listen to many experts who have put another view is despicable and not something I expect in this country.

    • Replies to J Key>

      Comment by Linda Whittern posted on

      Later statement by DEFRA was that the "TB-like lesions" were on the liver and in a lymph node - ie NOT where you'd expect to find actual TB lesions unless TB had already caused MAJOR PROBLEMS in the lungs and elsewhere in the body.

      Geronimo's lungs were clear of TB (there's X-Ray proof of that plus confirmation from DEFRA's post-mortem).

      If you Google for "TB lesions, liver, lymph node, alpaca" you'll see research studies (eg one in Ireland) showing that almost all alpacas with actual TB lesions on the liver etc had a well-established clinical history of severe breathing problems, lack of appetite and poor condition. Their post-mortems showed lungs in a dreadful state. In brief, there's nothing clinically in common between a bouncy, healthy and quite greedy Geronimo and alpacas sick enough with TB to develop TB lesions on their livers and elsewhere.

      (It's interesting but irrelevant that the alpaca research studies also mentioned some instances where "TB-like lesions" on the liver proved to be nothing of the sort. In one of the cases mentioned, the "TB-like lesions" were due to cancer)

      DEFRA asks us to believe the clinically improbable about Geronimo ... just because they say so. Water may occasionally flow uphill, cocoa may explode under certain conditions - but we all know that in ordinary life neither happens.

      Why sacrifice the Chief Vet's professional reputation in this vain attempt to hide from the public that Geronimo was TB free and DEFRA senior staff and ministers at fault?

    • Replies to J Key>

      Comment by A. Pauze posted on

      I agree with you 100%. The entire secrecy, control, and preventing Helen to have her own vet there to observe is suspicious. And the way Middlemiss 'spins' the report, her choice of words, and arrogance is just way too dramatic and disingenuous. Defra is just covering their backsides because they have been exposed. This all smacks of a cover-up. Their science for dealing with bTB is archaic and they desperately need better methods to deal with this disease. Middlemiss is a disgrace to her profession and needs to go. Eustace talks from both sides of his mouth and is devious. The whole Defra dept. is a charade and needs an overhaul ASAP. Their lack of integrity and machinations will sink their ship.

    • Replies to J Key>

      Comment by G Jones posted on

      Not all TB lesions are found in the lungs “as you would expect!”. They could be anywhere, head, intestines, liver etc anywhere. Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of these lesions!!!

    • Replies to J Key>

      Comment by Fiona posted on

      I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said!

  15. Comment by Matt D posted on

    This whole affair has been very poorly handled by the authorities. Defra and the Secretary of State have seemed to me arrogant, heavy-handed and dishonest throughout this affair.

    In interviews about this alpacca they have consistently referred to the dangers of bTB without at any time addressing the primary point; whether or not the animal had the disease and whether the tests were reliable.

    I am not a Vet but it seems to me that the initial autopsy results have not shown the clear indications of bTB that should be there given the supposed period of time the animal was infected.

    Like others commenting on here, I consider it unlikely that DEFRA will publish any kind of report which indicates that the animal was not infected with bTB - regardless of the facts. It also seems highly convenient for them that they will not be able to publish full findings for some months.

    My prediction is that the final autopsy result will be - "Indeterminate".

    • Replies to Matt D>

      Comment by A. Pauze posted on

      You're likely right about the 'indeterminate' cause. So then as a society how can we know what the truth is? Just more lies and cover ups from the govt. Defra no longer have any ethics, morals, or decency left. This kind of low-life is pervasive and pathological and leads to erosion of trust in people.

    • Replies to Matt D>

      Comment by A. Pauze posted on

      Hey Defra....What are the results of the Ziehl-Neelsen? You must have them by now. Your silence is suspicious......We are waiting!!

    • Replies to Matt D>

      Comment by A. Pauze posted on

      Hey the results of the Ziehl-Neelsen back yet? This won't go away....

  16. Comment by Lin Coghlan posted on

    I have been waiting patiently for DEFRA and the Chief Vet Christine Middllemiss to respond to the actions undertaken by DEFRA staff [one supposes] on the day this alpaca was killed. Whatever your position on the bTB issue, [and DEFRAs approach remains highly controversial], vets take a solemn oath when they qualify from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. They promise '...that my constant endeavor will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals in my care'. Geronimo the alpaca was in your care at the end of his life. Christine Middlemiss and other vets involved with the euthanisia of this animal had weeks if not months to plan his compassionate death. Yet the Chief Vet and DEFRA have made no comment on the disgusting scenes as the animal was dragged to its death by staff who appeared untrained in the correct handling of this species. The animal was chased as it screamed in distress, pushed, pulled, shoved, dragged, and then virtually strung up in the trailer in a manner which risked suffocation for an alpaca. I waited to hear an immediate apology from Christine Middlemiss, DEFRA and all vets involved but nothing. Not a word. Where is you solemn oath now? Was it worth nothing in the end?

    • Replies to Lin Coghlan>

      Comment by Anne Bennett posted on

      I thought that was a vile and inhumane treatment meted out to this poor animal, seeing it dragged through the field like that was appalling.

      If I had owned Geronimo and seeing him treated in this way would have affected me for life, as it is it is an awful thing to remember.

      No one is saying that this animal's life was more important than a humans or any other animals life but this treatment was disgusting.

    • Replies to Lin Coghlan>

      Comment by Fiona James posted on

      Completely agree. How can the Chief Vet endorse the brutal manner in which Geronimo was taken and executed? On the ITV news the Chief Vet said she had every sympathy with Helen MacDonald, If she did she would not have permitted such brutal conduct. If they were professional and transparent they would also have permitted an independent vet to be present at the post mortem. Very sad to see professionals responsible for animal welfare allow their ethics to be eroded for political expediency.

    • Replies to Lin Coghlan>

      Comment by Julian Voelcker posted on

      It was the owner or one of her cohorts that released the animal in to the paddock to be chased around rather than allow it to be quietly and calmly led away from a stable.

      If anyone should be chastised it should be the owner, no doubt stirring things up to ay out infront of the media.

      • Replies to Julian Voelcker>

        Comment by Kim posted on

        Geronimo had access to that paddock he was not let into it by anyone. His owner was not even at the farm when he was hounded and dragged to his death.

    • Replies to Lin Coghlan>

      Comment by Gill Turner posted on

      Yes totally agree undertake this oath which is what makes this so infuriating. It is an utter disgrace. Why have members of parliament not brought Defra to task over this either. Defra cannot do what it likes nor does Christine Middlemiss deserve this post, she is a disgrace.

  17. Comment by PAUL GREEN posted on

    Highly disappointed to see a animal treated like that and it could have been handled better by all involved.

    • Replies to PAUL GREEN>

      Comment by Bill Harvey posted on

      I agree with the comments of Paul Green and if this had been just another cow or bull no matter how much it had been valued at it would have been destroyed at the first sign of TB. I just goes to show how loud you shout you can delay the inevitable. The CVO has little to say on the matter and still she prevaricates. Get hold of the matter and sort it out.

      • Replies to Bill Harvey>

        Comment by Alex Barwick posted on

        'just another'... No compassionate person would use such a phrase. We shouldn't be treating any animal as a commodity for its meat, milk or skin. Animals are not ours.

      • Replies to Bill Harvey>

        Comment by Debbie posted on

        It needs sorting in all animals its discraceful each animal should be have a number of tests and tb should be proven to have tb and if poorly and suffering humanly all is handled wrongly

  18. Comment by Angelagrady posted on

    That poor animal karma all them involved in killing that poor innocent animal will get paid back rip geronimo

  19. Comment by Jon posted on

    Wow, there are just so many uninformed nonsense comments about this, clearly by people that have opinions and are highly motivated to spread fake news. I wonder how many of them don't believe in covid either?

    They found evidence of TB like lesions. That is not saying it does or doesn't have TB it is saying that there is evidence that it could be TB. The next step is to culture those samples to identify the strain of TB.

    As sad as it is this animal had tested positive. If it was a cow we wouldn't be wasting tax payers money on this and the matter would have been dealt with. TB is very contagious. You can be detained as a human if you get it and won't get treatment.

    This owner has put the alpaca through so much stress which was because of its original cost. She was financially driven. 25k us a significant amount of cash for an alpaca. She even refused to let him go with dignity.

    She should be prosecuted and made to pay back all the tax payers money that she has wasted unnecessarily. She should also be struck off from practicing as a vet nurse as clearly she is not competent, caused the alpaca distress and has brought the profession into disrepute.

    Shame on her and shame on those that support her.

    • Replies to Jon>

      Comment by SCD posted on

      Jon, you have hit several nails on the head there.

    • Replies to Jon>

      Comment by Catherine posted on

      To be fair, a cattle farmer wouldn't be able to afford what this lady has. Even a year closed puts farmers close to bankruptcy. So best for farmers to accept the lose.
      There are many animals found to be wrongly given the btb tag. Believe 3.9% alpacas were correctly identified. With the 96% wrongly destroyed. 205 tested positive, 8 were found to have btb on pm. These figures are openly displayed on site.
      The emplex test seems good, but for some reason the priming reduces the success rate.
      This lady didn't expect defra to storm her farm and cause the stress they did. She had the right to fight for her animal and had she known what little welfare standards defra had she would have done things differently I'm sure. But to end him her self would be too let defra get away with the miss calculation of tb suspected animals

    • Replies to Jon>

      Comment by J Key posted on

      They called them "TB like lesions" to get people who don't read the full facts to assume that this means TB. It doesn't. There were NO lesions in the lungs which is where you would certainly expect to find them in an animal that had supposedly had the disease for at least 4 years! Lesions elsewhere in the body can have many different causes - even previous liver fluke can cause lesions on the liver. Why are people so willing just to swallow the stuff DEFRA have put out and allow cattle, camelids and wildlife to be slaughtered needlessly and with no evidence of TB at post mortem. Of course DEFRA need to find evidence of TB in Geronimo so they are clutching at straws. To admit they were wrong would mean a complete overhaul of the TB testing system, which is exactly what is urgently needed. How many more healthy animals must die and how many more farmers be put through this hell?

    • Replies to Jon>

      Comment by Carol Worman posted on

      The problem here is that the tests for btb are not fit for purpose. Sadly the vast majority of all animals, including cattle, that test positive for btb using current skin patch testing are found not to be affected at post mortem. Tb or not, there was no excuse for the cruel treatment of this animal by vets and not allowing an independent vet at autopsy smacks or nothing but a cover up.

    • Replies to Jon>

      Comment by Linda Whittern posted on

      "They found evidence of TB like lesions. That is not saying it does or doesn't have TB it is saying that there is evidence that it could be TB"

      I think you must be arguing from experience with species other than alpacas (meat-eaters such as dogs eating raw food perhaps?). There's enough evidence already to show a near certainty that Geronimo was TB free and the lesions found should not have been described as "TB-like" by veterinary professionals.

      1. The DEFRA post-mortem found clear, healthy lungs in an 8 year old adult herbivore alleged to have been suffering from TB for 4 - 5 years. That DEFRA post-mortem result is backed up by the earlier X-rays showing clear, healthy lungs.

      It's inconceivable that TB breathed in and developing over 4 plus years wouldn't cause obvious extensive, life-threatening damage in the lungs.

      It's also inconceivable that an animal so damaged by TB disease would show NONE of the symptoms of TB (ie raspy breathing problems, poor appetite, emaciation, poor condition generally). Images of sheared and full-coated Geronimo show he was fat, his fleece was plentiful and in good nick, he moved easily and was fit enough to fight hard for his life and scream (not coughing while he did so).

      As alpacas don't eat raw meat (from carrion etc), an 8 year old alpaca's milk suckling days are long forgotten and his carefully quarantined pasture was fenced securely against any intruders such as deer and badgers, the only route by which Geronimo could have become infected with TB is by the respiratory route.

      Geronimo's owner, his breeder, those engaged in transporting him from New Zealand his vets have already provided convincing and evidence-based proof the alpaca never had the OPPORTUNITY to become infected with TB and so wasn't infected with TB.

      DEFRA claim Gernomo was infected with TB depends solely on the result of a scientifically unvalidated test that has proved misleading in at least 9 other similar cases. They didn't use alternative types of test (eg Actiphage) to verify or disprove their claim - which they should have done.

      DEFRA haven't provided any convincing, evidenced explanation of how an animal protected against TB infection for the whole of its life as carefully and as provably as Geronimo was ever became infected with TB.

      2. The DEFRA post-mortem also found that all the lymph glands (where TB lesions are found in alpacas that suffer TB) were clear. Again that finding points to Geronimo being completely clear of TB

      3. Oddly, the "TB-like lesions" that were found in Geronimo were in the liver and a lymph node where alpaca vets WOULDN'T expect to find any indicators of TB. Those "TB-like lesions" weren't subjected to the tests that would have instantly confirmed whether or not they were likely to be caused by TB.

  20. Comment by Freda Gower posted on

    Disgusting treatment of poor Geronimo the way he was handled when taken off to be slaughtered was an absolute disgrace all whilst being filmed around the world what cannot speak cannot lie,unlike Defra.Animal Welfare laws that have been in force since 2006 completely disregarded. Defra and this government should hang their heads in shame because all they were concerned about was losing face.Thirteen top vets from the RVC writing to ask that he be spared and used for science all to no avail. I sincerely hope when the truth does come out those responsible for this disgusting cruelty are held to account and suffer the consequences of their actions against this much loved pet and his owner. JUSTICE FOR GERONIMO

  21. Comment by Janey M posted on

    Any faith in Defra (which wasn't much anyway due to badgers being used as scape goats in a billion £+ industry) has now been completely eroded. I smell another 'cover up'!!

  22. Comment by Leah Thompson posted on

    Honestly I have no opinion on whether or not the alpaca should have been killed but surely you people have better things to do with your evenings than debating in the comments section of a Defra blog about a dead alpaca?

    • Replies to Leah Thompson>

      Comment by P Buckley posted on

      Then what are you doing making a comment on this site then Leah? Surely you must have better things to do?

    • Replies to Leah Thompson>

      Comment by Harry Hucknall posted on

      But who is interested in you?

    • Replies to Leah Thompson>

      Comment by S. Matthews posted on

      Clearly you haven’t anything better to do either.

  23. Comment by Linda Whittern posted on

    The government's own most recent statistics show DEFRA's bTB testing process for camelids produces far more wrong results than right ones - such dreadful mistakes can't be allowed to continue.

    DEFRA’s “TB-like lesions” argument seems unconvincing and contradicted by other clinical and observational evidence.

    TB diagnostic web pages suggest that for humans and probably other mammals (like alpacas?) important locations for TB lesions are in the lungs and on the skin.

    While still alive Geronimo had X-rays done on his lungs. Geronimo's X-Rays were clear - no lesions, cavities or any other indication of TB. DEFRA’s own post-mortem report confirms the earlier results of the X-Rays.

    Lesions found on the skin are sometimes diagnostic of TB but often don't mean anything of the sort. These lesions can be created by injections of (harmless) TB material ... it happens sometimes when humans are vaccinated against TB. As we all know, Geronimo was subjected to repeated injections of (harmless) TB over short time scales.

    If DEFRA is to retain any professional credibility now surely the organisation MUST immediately provide Helen Macdonald and her vets full details about the "TB like lesions" allegedly discovered. Helen can then put these details in the public domain if she chooses to do so.

    Other alpaca owners whose animals proved clear of bTB at post-mortem will want to compare the DEFRA data on Geronimo with that relating to their own alpacas. On the face of it, a complete transformation is needed in DEFRA’s approach to testing for bTB.

  24. Comment by Melissa Davis posted on

    Murdering that poor alpaca before even granting him and his owner a third test!!!! You had no right to drag that poor animal clearly distressed to his death without concrete proof,were supposed to be a nation of animal lovers??? Ok so was supposed to be a threat to other animals and the spread of TB so why not test him and at least give him the chance of proving otherwise? The way you have treated that poor animal and his owner is disgusting and if he was negative you should hang your heads in shame and I hope Helen McDonald sues the lot of you.Animals just arent animals they are family they have feelings and geronimo knew exactly what was going on just by the way he fought right to the very end your all disgusting and how you sleep at night is beyond me? RIP GERINOMO xxxxx

  25. Comment by steve watts posted on

    What a waste of time you are all very sad people crying over the loss of ONE animal who may or may not have had TB,..My Auntie spent 10 years in Hospital in the 1930's as she was a carrier of TB..This illness is vary dangerous and if an animal is even suspected of carrying it they should be destroyed, why waste all this time and money on one dead animal when it could be used in helping find a cure for this disease and by doing so you help thousands of animals.I also know of a local dairy farmer who hasn't been able to sell anything from his farm for the last 10 years because he has several badger sets on his land and they keep giving his cattle tb.

  26. Comment by James Dunn posted on

    When one watches the news with a discerning eye using critical and analytical thinking over the course of ones life, one can easily see that we are constantly lied to about all manner of things by politicians - perhaps most things if we use the legal standard of 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'.

    Perfect example the war against Iraq, I say war tongue in cheek - it was a massacre. All based on a pack of lies from Blair that have since been proven to be outright lies, yet the media machine was behind him all the way.... The lying was off the scale. And nothing happened to him - why do you think that was? How did he get away with it? I'm afraid the answer is that that there are wheels within wheels. It was sanctioned above Blair by people we never see or hear. People we are unaware exist. We watch the news and think we have a handle on what is going on in the world. Truth is we know nothing, but what they want us to think.

    And it is constant. Constant lies and propaganda - half truths, misleading truths and all out lies.
    The Government (labour or Conservative) it matters not who is in power lie and lie and lie and lie some more. I remember a linguistics lecturer of mine at university laughing once when she said "as linguists we can tell when a politician is lying because their lips are moving", We all chuckled, as it resonated.

    Those in power manipulate us, play on our fears, incite outrage and then offer solutions that suit their ends.

    George Eustice is culpable for this mess regarding this Alpaca, as are his cronies, which include the veterinarians at DEFRA who were so determined to flex their muscles and demonstrate their power that they stubbornly and repeatedly refused to do another test or listen to reason. They even refused to allow another vet to witness the post mortem due to covid!!!! Oh my word that is a the kind of excuse an 8 year old would come up with. Seriously just pause a second to really to let that in. They refused to have a witness as they were concerned about covid!!
    That particular insult to our intelligence deserves to be noted. And given the disingenuousness of this particular bit of nonsense one can extrapolate that there are plenty of other lies being told here also.

    Any reasonable person has to wonder why this might be... What harm another test to silence the critics? Well what if it came back negative?! - That's a LOT of egg on their faces. They would feel their power base slipping and simply couldn't allow that.
    So no new test. They then use the police to enforce their highly dubious operation and drag the alpaca off to be shot, no doubt terrified from being dragged by his muzzle, legs bound with rope then thrown into a van on his side surrounded by uncaring faces.

    Regarding the refusal for another test, lets take a parallel - if someone is requested to provide a DNA sample for a police investigation and they refuse what assumptions are made about his individual? Why would they refuse the test if they are indeed innocent... Of course it doesn't necessarily mean they are guilty, but it certainly raise eyebrows...

    Im afraid this whole sorry story stinks to high heaven and everyone knows it. This is not about protecting cattle, it is about protecting DEFRA. DEFRA must be seen to be in control. Only problem is it is backfiring and they look bad now. In fact DEFRA now look terrible. They have lost the public, or most of them, and are now desperately trying to spin their way out of this.

    Does anyone really believe that DEFRA can permit a final negative test result that would seriously undermine their credibility and authority?

    Get ready for more lies.

  27. Comment by Valerie McDonagh posted on

    Theoretically Geronimo should have died several years ago if he had TB. It is clear that Defra have mismanaged this situation and demonstrated to the world how they cruelly handled the poor animal when he was dragged away. He must have been terrified.

    TB-like lesions are not necessarily an indication of TB but Atypical lesions which are more indicative of M.Microti - if a Mycobacterium at all.

    Credibility of Defra is questionable arising from the fact that they did not work alongside independent experts. How many animals have been unnecessarily slaughtered. And not to permit an independent autopsy by accredited professionals just downgrades Defra's reputation further.

    Shameful and irresponsible

  28. Comment by MARALYN RADFORD posted on

    I would imagine Defra are not releasing information as to the whereabouts of Geronimo's body because they might have incinerated his remains straight after Post Mortem. There is a company acting as an agent for Defra - removing animals & testing for bTB, very near Geronimo's home, who say on their "services" section that they dispose of the bodies after post mortem. The information on their website is stark. Their "animal welfare" statement is backed by an image of butchered animal carcasses strung up - as part of the food chain.

  29. Comment by Karen Fitzpatric posted on

    Hmmn, 4 years after testing positive, one would expect more significant signs. Surely it is time to review testing procedures that often show "false positives" in many livestock and work on a more accurate blood test?

  30. Comment by S. Mathieson posted on

    Why is there people out there who think the government has nothing better to do than going around killing peoples pets? Gie's peace! The animal tested positive for it and had to be dealt with, sad, but needed to be done.

  31. Comment by Jenny Bigg posted on

    I believe the truth will be suppressed because it would look extremely bad on the Government vets to have a negative result. Why is an independent veterinary examination not being allowed. Would make sense to allow it in less you have something to hide.

    • Replies to Jenny Bigg>

      Comment by Mary Price posted on

      I agree entirely - there will be a complete coverup knowing the backlash if they admit they were wrong - it wont happen

    • Replies to Jenny Bigg>

      Comment by Sheila posted on

      Totally agree with your comment. How convenient that the results won't be available until the end of the year when they think everyone will have forgotten.
      Well they are sooo wrong

  32. Comment by Helen Miller posted on

    Then you won't mind the owner having her own independent PM,we could all have predicted what you was going to say,why block Helen the owner from everything???? why has the owner recieved a letter saying there was no trace of TB ?????and the way you treated that poor animal is barbaric and cruel Middlemiss and Eustice need to resign with a massive apology

    • Replies to Helen Miller>

      Comment by Sue Knight posted on

      We had TV and papers trying to fight for our cow. We had a phone call saying she had a small lymph node by her lungs. When the paperwork came back it said VISIBLE LESIONS. There was no way DEFRA would say she didn’t have it. We weren’t allowed an i dependant PM.

      • Replies to Sue Knight>

        Comment by Deborah posted on

        That's totally wrong sorry for ur loss and the way you was treated

  33. Comment by Janice Holliday posted on

    The woman that owned the poor Alpaca is the person responsible for causing all the distress for him. She is an utterly selfish person who only thought about herself

    • Replies to Janice Holliday>

      Comment by Debbie Baskett posted on

      Really? I think Helen was extraordinarily brave in NOT participating in the killing of her alpaca. It must have taken enormous strength to stay away as Defra and the police arrived on the farm, but in doing it this way she has brought the whole sorry saga out into the open and not allowed it to be hidden away. I have always been a big supporter of Defra and I think that on the whole they are a force for good, but their handling of bTB needs a big rethink if we are not to continue senselessly killing and killing our livestock and wildlife unnecessarily. Find a better way. Thank you Helen for being so brave as to allow your alpaca to be used in the hope some good comes of it.

    • Replies to Janice Holliday>

      Comment by Chris Kearns posted on

      Absolute rubbish. She was trying to protect the animal from the goons at DEFRA whose first action in any animal incidents is to kill. The totally unnecessary slaughter and primitive burning of millions of animals during the last foot and mouth incident proves that.

      The tests used on Geronimo are not reliable and the notion that an animal last tested 4 years ago would still be alive and well with a terrible wasting disease is absurd. Why wouldn't DEATHRA and Useless let the animal be tested again?

      As for the utterances today of the chief veterinary officer, well I just don't believe her. She will do as her political masters tell her and the name of the came is covering their backsides.

    • Replies to Janice Holliday>

      Comment by Ben posted on

      Your spot on there. The animal should of been led quietly by its keeper and been peacefully put down. Instead all those clowns and cameras only unnecessarily caused excessive stress and trauma!
      These idiots don’t love animals, they just want to protest.

    • Replies to Janice Holliday>

      Comment by Debbie posted on

      Why? Becuase as a vetinary nurse she had serious doubts as to whether the test results were correct, and that she was tying to stop Geronimo's from being needlessly killed? How is that selfish?

    • Replies to Janice Holliday>

      Comment by Julia Smith posted on

      I agree, there may be some debate over whether or not Geronimo had TB however the uneccessary stress and suffering at the end could have been prevented by the owner. If it was my animal I would have brought my own vet in to do quietly and gently, the poor animal looked terrified being dragged away like that 😢

    • Replies to Janice Holliday>

      Comment by Suzanne Clarke posted on

      She waited until the last possible moment for defra to come and talk to her, she fought to save him. And its about all animals, cattle, badgers ,camelids etc

  34. Comment by Beki posted on

    Would it have hurt to have him tested again before killing him? What is it you're afraid of? Inaccurate testing maybe? Maybe you're afraid of all the owners of all the other animals you've killed unnecessarily sueing you. But let's be honest, you do what the hell you like!

    • Replies to Beki>

      Comment by D Goddard posted on

      DEFRA do not kill 500 cattle a day “unnecessarily”. The fact that people are not dying from TB anymore is proof of that.

    • Replies to Beki>

      Comment by Denise posted on

      Exactly as a farmer have seen so much of this disgusting behavior - they are a Law unto themselves !

    • Replies to Beki>

      Comment by Sue Knight posted on

      Totally agree!! Bullies

  35. Comment by Jan posted on

    The truth will come out and then a few heads will roll. These lies just add to the deceipt, incompetence and arrogance. Have you heard the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf? Well, nobody believed him in the end and that is happening with Defra now.

  36. Comment by Terry Pereira posted on

    "Highly accurate tests". Would these be the same tests used on another alpaca owned by a couple, that was deemed positive for tTB and killed by your department, only to be verified as negative for tTB after a post-mortem?

    Given your refusal to allow an independent person to witness the post-mortem, how do we *know* you will not falsify the results to cover your backs? So much hinges on these results, in particular your methods of testing which may have resulted in 1000s of innocent animals being needlessly killed, if faulty.

  37. Comment by Stacey posted on

    Shame you all ,you are an utter disgrace everyone knows the truth the barbaric handling of Geronimo was at the highest act of cruelty and all
    Involved should be prosecuted and sacked with immediate affect. You have
    Displayed your complete disregard for animal welfare for all to see and this will not be forgotten. Come clean that you’ve messed up because I for one don’t believe a word you say Geronimo was negative and you know it.

    • Replies to Stacey>

      Comment by Shaun Mccrae posted on

      You was not there when a farmer lost his herd to tb. But all you are intrested in is some pet. Shame on you.

      • Replies to Shaun Mccrae>

        Comment by Jessica posted on

      • Replies to Shaun Mccrae>

        Comment by Debbie Baskett posted on

        I think the stress and despair a farmer goes through when his cows test positive for bTB are well documented and I have every sympathy, it must be absolutely horrific. But surely this is now an opportunity for farmers to get behind Helen and support her desire to see scientists develop better tests and better treatments for bTB rather than to just roll over and kill, kill, kill while pocketing the compensation? Come on farmers, show a bit of backbone and sort this out, because the kill policy just isn't working, is it?

      • Replies to Shaun Mccrae>

        Comment by Stacey posted on

        Do you people not read comments or factual proof that this pathetic
        Organisation have culled animals and a large number where recorded negative after autopsy .A lot of comments protecting these people makes me think that you possibly work for Defra, Shame on you gullible people.

      • Replies to Shaun Mccrae>

        Comment by Sheila posted on

        You should also realise that the tests that DEFRA carry out on cattle could also be flawed.
        Many farmers are now realising this.

    • Replies to Stacey>

      Comment by Liz posted on

      What was barbaric?? Clearly you are overreacting. Go and stand outside the farmers gates and stop their cattle being taken away and slaughtered when testing positive for TB. The Alpaca was put to sleep! Cattle, that the farmers have reared from calves and worked day and night to put food and milk in your bellies deserve this sympathy from you surely! Their cattle don’t have a nice sleepy end do they. Hypocrites the lot of you 🤣🤣🤣🤣

      • Replies to Liz>

        Comment by Margaret Arnold posted on

        What! Put to sleep you said,really? Dragged through a field by clearly incompetent vets who had no idea how to handle an Alpaca. That much was evident by the way they dragged him into their trailer and forced him to stand up with a tiny tiny amount of rope. Alpaca don’t stand when in transport they sit down.This poor animal could have suffocated or even hung himself during that tragic journey,then if he did survive that,and we will never know,then he would have had a bolt to his head. I don’t call that putting to sleep! Defra messed up on this and they know it.

    • Replies to Stacey>

      Comment by Mary Price posted on

      I am an animal lover and have never witnessed such a distressing scene as geronimo being pulled aggressively to his inevitable fate - the truth will never come out - if defra were so confident they should have said we are happy for independent witnesses to everything but gerinimo is now only a statistic in some jumped up executives eyes whose trying to save face

      • Replies to Mary Price>

        Comment by Gill Turner posted on

        Completely and utterly unbelievable what I saw. I am an animal lover and it has distressed me badly, given me nightmares. Defra disgraceful from the beginning in how they treated Helen and she acted with such dignity.

  38. Comment by Michael Desmond Walters posted on

    I dont believe a word of it. Evil people!

  39. Comment by Tracy Cole posted on

    No one believes anything that you say anymore!! I'm disgusted in how you treated this poor animal last week, dragging him while he kicked and screamed out of his home and to his death!! You could have just given him one more test! You wouldn't even allow an independent vet at his portmortem! You murdered a perfectly healthy animal and me and many more like me will never get those terrible images and screams out of our minds! You have zero credibility and those responsible for this attrocity should all lose their job!!

    • Replies to Tracy Cole>

      Comment by Carole Newton posted on

      I totally agree absolutely sickening

    • Replies to Tracy Cole>

      Comment by Gemma Pickering posted on

      Oh don't be so hysterical. Nobody forced you to watch and listen so thats purely on you and nobody else.

      Alpacas scream like that all the time, trim their toenails and they scream bloody murder, shear them and they scream bloody murder... Not because they are scared... Just protesting being handled. Treatment for health reasons? They'll scream bloody murder, jostled at the feed trough by another alpaca... Scream bloody murder... The boys are the worst because they just spend all day run ing about screaming at each other if they can and it sounds awful but work with them long enough you just learn to tune it out.

      Your comment is so full of in accuracies it's ridiculous, it's hardly 'murder' if DEFRA are just following the rules and doing their jobs, why would they allow another indeoendant vet into the autopsy when they are not legally obliged to in any way and certainly nobody has given them reason to allow it as a good will gesture!

      As the initial autopsy has shown, as was already believed, Geronimo was clearly not a 'percectly healthy animal'... And lashing out at DEFRA staff and saying they should lose their jobs sounds like a petulant child having a tantrum and stamping their foot because they arent getting their way! Its ridiculous, the owner brought all of this on her self and that poor alpaca, she could have chosen to have her own vet come out and quietly euthanise Geronimo in his own pen surrounded by everything and everyone he knows and no stress... But instead of choosing to do the right thing for her alpaca, she chose to think of only her own needs and aired her own anger and sadness in the media and ensured that there was no way her vet could do the deed any more due to protesters and the vet fearing for the safety of themself and their family. Because of all the prodesters and the media that the owner got involved! DEFRA had no choice but to remove Geronimo to a secret location for their own safety! I doubt DEFRA would have chosen to go to all that effort just for the fun of it!

      • Replies to Gemma Pickering>

        Comment by Heidi Nolen posted on

        That's not true. Instead of taking police they could have brought the army with them to keep the peace. But they should have waited until the owner was at home so she could pet him whilst the killing dose was administered.

      • Replies to Gemma Pickering>

        Comment by Debbie posted on

        Why can't you understand that Geronimo's owner didn't believe the test results - why should she when the developer of the test himself stated publicly that they aren't reliable with primed subjects? Also when other alpacas had tested positive using this test only to go on and find they were negative during the PM. She was trying to save the life of her pets, as most of us would.

      • Replies to Gemma Pickering>

        Comment by Deborah posted on

        I very much doubt it geronimo came from New Zealand it was said and new Zealand are so hot on transmitting diseases that alpaca would of been tested b4 he entered the country and showed no signs of illness which tb is rapid he tested positive 2 after his vacations and stayed for years that was wrong what they did no animal should be treated that cruelly and their needs to be proof b4 to say an animal has it and I would not believe them after all that it's discraceful and wrong

  40. Comment by Clare posted on

    Well done Defra! The owner is at fault for all the distress that the animal went through, she turned him into a media circus and put so much stress and suffering on him when it was inevitable. She should have thought about the animals welfare before her own selfish needs, and let him go with dignity and stress-free. And everyone jumping to the owners defence, I ask have/would you be this upset or angry if it was a farmers cattle that had tested positive for TB? Farmers all over the country have been through this and no one ever says a word, how can you all be so hypocritical?! Defra were in the right to do what they did, it is the owner that made it unpleasant!

    • Replies to Clare>

      Comment by Carole Newton posted on

      Its called a freedom of speech

    • Replies to Clare>

      Comment by Ben Taylor posted on

      You actually can't read....

    • Replies to Clare>

      Comment by Helen posted on

      Maybe Defra shouldn't have lied and let Helen believe they were still in talks,and then turned up and mobed handed that poor animal dragging him by his kneck to his death,and blocking the owner from doing anything..get it right ...and you believe Defra on this ha

      • Replies to Helen>

        Comment by D Goddard posted on

        No, She was treated far more leniently than the thousands of farmers who have had to have their cattle slaughtered. That’s up to 500 cattle have to be slaughtered EVERY day!

        • Replies to D Goddard>

          Comment by Gill Turner posted on

          Selfish I dont think si, she was fighting for his right to live. Give her a break.

  41. Comment by Danielle posted on

    Reposted but very probable

    He would have had plainly obvious Typical Lesions in his lungs and lymph nodes if he had been infected for over 4 years. He clearly didn't so we can assume what Middlemiss and Defra are talking about is Atypical Lesions which are more indicative of M.Microti - if a Mycobacterium at all - assuming these potentially fictitious atypical lesions are actually large enough pieces of tissue to culture at all. So these preliminary results clearly do not suggest that he had bTB....... But Middlemiss and DEFRA have a lot to lose and are trying to cover their backs..

    • Replies to Danielle>

      Comment by John Adams posted on

      More likely would have been dead if had TB for that time. Alpacas have relatively poor immune response to TB. Re previous comment re alpacas screaming - I've never heard that although handled and TB testeded 100's of alpacas. DEFRA have handled this very poorly - I'm speaking as an ex DEFRA Vet

  42. Comment by Adam Goodall posted on

    The pm says evidence of lesions so why are all these comments here. Just because it's not the result you wanted? As for the way the animal was treated that was entirely down to the owners actions.

    • Replies to Adam Goodall>

      Comment by Ross Anderson posted on

      Because TB-like is not TB. If DEFRA were certain the lesions were definitely evidence of TB they would have said so, but clearly what they found was not proof of TB. Hence the kick it down the road with further testing required.

      • Replies to Ross Anderson>

        Comment by Ian posted on

        You get exactly the same with cattle. The post-mortem and culture process are exactly as they would be for cattle.

      • Replies to Ross Anderson>

        Comment by Emma posted on

        It is called “TB like” because until it is properly cultured it cannot be accurately typed and identified as M. Bovis. You can’t just look at a lesion and say that’s M. Bovis, needs to be further tested so until then it’s called “TB like”. They are not hiding anything

  43. Comment by Jane Smith posted on

    Also, Defra: Geronimo was a "who", not a "which".

    • Replies to Jane Smith>

      Comment by Steve posted on

      Geronimo was not a pet he was purchased as a stud male for financial gain

  44. Comment by David posted on

    Ms McDonald claimed to care for the animal but did everything in her power to make his removal as stressful as possible with her antics. Letting it loose, not putting the halter on, allowing protestors to shout and bawl etc. She should be ashamed.

    • Replies to David>

      Comment by Andrew Dowson posted on

      Defra have zero credibility, now they want to make sure they cover up everything.

      • Replies to Andrew Dowson>

        Comment by Irene posted on

        Ms McDonald has zero credibility. Any decent animal owner would not have put him thro that last day. She deliberately and intentionally made things more difficult for DEFRA (which you may say is fair enough) but by doing so she made things far worse for the animal - deliberately and intentionally created the stressful situation. Just to make her point. Someone who truly cared about her animal would have swallowed her pride and ire and done everything to make this last day easier and less stressful.
        As she didnt make that effort, I'm afraid it makes much of the rest of her claims so much less believable.

  45. Comment by Deborah Simpson posted on

    If you were fully confident that you had made the correct decision in euthanising Geronimo, then surely you would be only too happy to allow an independent PM to take place along side the official Defra PM. It would show transparency and potentially may vindicate you. That aside, there is no excuse for the disgraceful cruelty and mismanagement of how he was treated last week and an enquiry into this & disciplinary action against
    all those involved in this gross incompetence is needed, as a matter of urgency. As things stand nobody believes any thing that DEFRA says anymore - zero credibility!

    • Replies to Deborah Simpson>

      Comment by Anthony Perryman posted on

      instead of allowing a vet to get on with the job the whole thing was treated like a circus by the media and idiots protesting . His owner went out to add to the problem . He should have been left in his stall quietly and without the screaming fools . It wasn't APHA who were to blame ,it was the fools making a noise.

      • Replies to Anthony Perryman>

        Comment by Deborah Simpson posted on

        You miss the main point of my post Anthony which questions the lack of transparency over the PM results. The fact that Defra will not also allow an independent PM only adds to the suspicion that they have something to hide and that is what a great many people find unacceptable. Government departments and indeed government generally, is supposed to be accountable, otherwise we may as well live in a dictatorship. As for your comments regarding the way the animal should have been euthanised, leaving the ethics of the decision to euthanise aside, I wholeheartedly agree that if this had to be done then it should have been done in the calm and peace of a familiar environment. It would have been perfectly possible to achieve this, rather than the tragic farce that ensued, had the police been deployed to remove the protesters, prior to any attempt being made to capture Geronimo. It seems to me that every eventuality had been covered off here except for any regard for animal welfare - obscured registration plates, police presence with tasers, ridiculous over the top hazmat suits complete with goggles - perfect for disguising the identity of the incompetent vets officiating, and I could go on! Any vet worth their salt would know the correct way to handle and calm any distressed animal including an alpaca, and it is beyond belief that they failed in this basic duty of care to a plainly terrified animal. I don't believe they will be able to prove that Geronimo was infected with TB, and I have read a lot of the science surrounding this, but even if they do, I stand by my belief that he was treated inhumanely, which should be a matter for immediate and thorough investigation, and that it is in the public interest for the PM result to be made fully available. As a UK citizen living in a civilised democratic society I expect nothing less from the government that represents us, the ordinary people.

      • Replies to Anthony Perryman>

        Comment by LizzieB posted on

        No, it was the fools who fitted a calf halter over the lower part of his nose so that he couldn't breathe that caused him to freak out, and then to tie him up in the trailer so that he couldn't sit down (which is what alpacas always do when being transported) is something else that added to his stress. Absolutely diabolical the way those 'vets' - I use the term loosely - handled Geronimo.

    • Replies to Deborah Simpson>

      Comment by Irene posted on

      And a prosecution for cruelty of the owner too. As she could have so easily prevented the situation but instead deliberately and intentionally exacerbated it. Deliberately and intentionally made the situation far worse for her animal than it needed to be.

      • Replies to Irene>

        Comment by Deborah Simpson posted on

        To be honest Irene I think she could not have prevented what ensued as she was not given prior notice that Defra would be arriving. I think the element of surprise is what caused a lot of the chaos, that and the extra drama and ill feeling caused by the over the top hazmat suits, police escort etc which definitely inflamed an already emotional situation. I think it is worth mentioning also that this team from Defra were so poorly informed that they actually polled up at the wrong farm first! I suppose bearing this in mind we cannot be surprised at their generally ham fisted handling of the whole sorry affair.
        I fully defend the right of the owner to fight for the life of what she believed to be a healthy animal, and what was actually a pet as opposed to livestock, was kept in a bio secure environment and posed no risk even in the unlikely event he did carry TB, as was never going to be part of the food chain. I know how I would feel if Defra came after my family dog, under similar circumstances, I would fight for them with everything in my power, and while I understand your point about the owner needing to be with Geronimo to calm him at the end, once it became apparent that there was no way out, I think that she was never given that opportunity.

    • Replies to Deborah Simpson>

      Comment by Emma posted on

      An independent PM was not allowed because as you are aware (hopefully) TB has the potential to infect humans. So the PM needs to be done in special PM rooms with increased PPE etc to stop the potential for human infection. The only labs in the country with this increased PPE, ventilation and appropriate facilities to do PMs on animals with potential TB are DEFRA labs.

      • Replies to Emma>

        Comment by Deborah Simpson posted on

        Presumably though, they could have allowed Dr Iain McGill, the vet who has supported Helen and Geronimo's case in to ensure that the PM findings were true, accurate and transparent?

        After all he has worked for Defra so presumably understands about infection control.

        The secrecy just fuels the belief of ordinary people of a cover up.

  46. Comment by Judith Worboys posted on

    Helen has received a written notification that the intial pm results showed no visible lesions. Where is the truth?

  47. Comment by Wendy Bunyan posted on

    I sincerely hope that these ‘TB-like lesions’ will be cultured within an independent controlled laboratory as well as your own Dr Middlemiss. It’s clear that you have a vested interest to ensure that these results do not damage DEFRA’S integrity/science further.

    • Replies to Wendy Bunyan>

      Comment by Sue Knight posted on

      We were told we weren’t allowed an independant PM - probably because there isn’t a vet brave enough to go against a DEFRA decision 🤷‍♀️

  48. Comment by Sally Garland posted on

    Why won’t you allow an independent test then, which would clear the matter up once and for all.

    • Replies to Sally Garland>

      Comment by Michael Bond posted on

      Because it's a cover up, we all know they will say Geronimo had bt but because deathra have done the postmortem in secret it is obvious to everyone they can't be trusted. The world know now so get that useless middlemiss out she is just a tory puppet no care for animals

  49. Comment by Tim Smith posted on

    Complete travesty!

    Will you be cultivating a false outcome in the frantic attempt to cover your own incompetence in breaking protocol and administering an unvalidated test?

    Will you be covering the photos and video the world saw of your agents flagrant breech of the Animal Welfare Act on Tuesday 31 st August?

    Will you be explaining away the over 90% rate of false positives in South American Camelids slaughtered in the UK as result of false positives?

    Your science is flawed, your decisions are flawed, your actions in removing Geronimo were flawed, and those responsible must be accountable.

    Middlemiss, Eustice, and all those responsible should resign immediately.

    • Replies to Tim Smith>

      Comment by Rachael Grundon posted on

      The owner chose to do this optional test. Unfortunately you then have to abide by the outcome.
      The DEFRA pathologists will be veterinary professionals. If you wish to accuse them of lying and professional dishonesty them you had better be damn sure of the hill you are prepared to die on.

      • Replies to Rachael Grundon>

        Comment by Vanda Kaszowicz-Bell posted on

        Your underlying pompous and arrogant point that a vet is incapable of being dishonest and unprofessional is clearly ignorant. I’ve known vets who have acted unprofessionally and have been dishonest. That’s why the veterinary profession has a discipline code and procedure to deal with such behaviour. People have a right to voice their concern and upset over what happened to Geronimo and shame on you for intimating a threat in your comments towards people who have have done so.

        • Replies to Vanda Kaszowicz-Bell>

          Comment by Irene posted on

          If one vet can be dishonest, what's your guarantee that a vet approved by Ms McDonald would be any more honest? Someone has to pay the vets fee. If DEFRA pays, is an independent vet still considered independent enough? If Ms McDonald pays again how can this be considered independent?

        • Replies to Vanda Kaszowicz-Bell>

          Comment by Stacey posted on

          Yes I noticed the threat , it Just goes to show what Defra stands for allowing this comment to be aired.The comments I’ve read everywhere are the same regarding all animals that have been wrongly killed but that is Defras mistake for using tests that aren’t accurate and still knowingly
          Using them.

    • Replies to Tim Smith>

      Comment by Ann Jones posted on

      The Government will cover up the results if the post mortem shows anything but TB otherwise there will be hell to pay. What a dreadful way to treat an animal and its owner. Why was DEFRA so afraid to have an independent post mortem? Or an vet observer for that matter. To watch the video of that poor animal being dragged away from its herd and home was heart breaking. It was clearly terrified. DEFRA have a lot to answer for.

    • Replies to Tim Smith>

      Comment by Lesley posted on

      I also agree, I was sickened and disgusted at the cruel way that poor frightened and distressed animal was so cruelly treated. Let’s hope the truth comes out.
      Though seriously doubt it with Defra by judging there performance so far.

  50. Comment by Kathy Ainsworth posted on

    Using "highly accurate tests". Are you kidding? Are you thinking if you keep telling the same lies over and over that you will convince someone they are true? Not in this lifetime! Trying to cover your hind end isn't going to work any longer! Why don't you try being a big enough human being and admit you made a grave mistake. Shame on you!

    • Replies to Kathy Ainsworth>

      Comment by Charlie posted on

      Cameras don't lie. We saw what happened, the whole world watched.

  51. Comment by Heather McKenna posted on

    Nobody believes you! Now if you’d been a bit more transparent ….

    • Replies to Heather McKenna>

      Comment by Becky Brake posted on

      DEFRA l hope now the general public can see what many have known for years you are not fit for purpose.
      The killing of Geronimo was needlessly and unnecessary he should have been studied alive on his farm if you really wanted to stop bTB
      You won’t address dirty farming you won’t vaccinate badgers more licences issues to cull this year.
      You moved cattle from outside Wales into Wales as according to you they had passed their skin test now clean herds are bTB infected in low risk areas in Wales. The thing that is spreading bTB is your flawed skin test. You don’t listen you don’t learn and the tax payer picks up the bill. We want vaccination of all badgers not killing and vaccination for cows. The skin test changed and the millions saved by using a more reliable test to social care now stop this bTB con it’s gone on long enough people have made millions from the tax payer from it and millions of animals are still loosing their lives.
      Geronimo did not need to die you used him as a scape goat to support your ego an ego that is based on a flawed bTB test and making millions from the tax payer well the tax payer has had enough !
      It said it all when you refused independent vets at the PM your just a money making department and we are paying in our taxes.

  52. Comment by Jackie Aucott posted on

    I wait for the final outcome of this dreadful episode with great interest. It will be a most unsatisfactory outcome if no clear decision can be made as to the infectivity risk Geromino presented after all this.

  53. Comment by Jill Williams posted on

    Let Helen McDonald have an independent PM. You have not allowed any independent verification of autopsy findings.

    There is no transparency. Why so much secrecy?

    The killing of Geronimo was bungled and barbaric. Ms McDonald has been treated with contempt by Defra throughout this long process. Why should anyone trust Defra?

    Middlemiss should resign, she brings the veterinary profession and her Office into disrepute. Eustace also needs to resign.

    • Replies to Jill Williams>

      Comment by J Key posted on

      Totally agree. What possible excuse is there for refusing to let Helen have an independent post mortem, or even be given some tissue samples to test separately. The excuse given was Covid (yawn!) and H&S which is beyond patronising and insulting