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Unforgettable: A Mysterious Creature

Many of us at the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County were perplexed last November when director of animal protective services Ilka Daniel brought in an odd-looking creature. She and animal control officer Bruce Dangerfield received a call to rescue the animal from a nearby dumpster. The problem was that nobody could explain what kind of animal they’d been called out to help.

  • Janet Winikoff/Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County

When staff looked over Ilka’s furless find, they weren’t sure how to record the animal on intake. What should they put for “species”? Programs like Chameleon and PetPoint don’t offer “alien” as an option.

Some people joked that Ilka had captured a “chupacabra.” From the Spanish chupar (to suck) and cabra meaning “goat,” mythological goat-suckers hail from the same netherworld as Big Foot, Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster. If your shelter has been hoping to encourage indoor pets and responsible livestock care, chupacabra lore may help—the creatures supposedly prey upon cats, dogs, and farm animals, drink their blood, then leave them for dead. Legend has it that when they’re really hungry, people aren’t safe, either. Sightings of the goat-sucking ghouls with big eyes and spikes down their backs have been reported from Puerto Rico up to Maine and along the Texas-Mexico border.

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