MADISON — A wayward llama was reunited with his owner after spending Tuesday afternoon in a Summer Street yard getting hugs from a neighbor who said the animal initially charged and spit at him.

Shawn Quimby was at a friend’s house at 26 Summer St. when he saw the llama walking up the street around noon. When Quimby went outside to take a look, the llama charged and spit at him twice, he said.

“I ran in the house as fast as my feet could carry me and called 911,” Quimby said. “I said, ‘Whoa, I’ve just been charged by a llama.'”

The llama’s owner, Tabetha Peters, 33, who lives a block away, was found around 4 p.m., according to Madison Police Chief Barry Moores.

The llama’s name is Gilbert, Peters said in an interview.

Peters wasn’t reunited with Gilbert until after the llama spent a good part of the afternoon eating the grass and hanging out with Quimby at his friend Duane Harvell’s house while they drank beer.

After Quimby got off the phone with a police dispatcher Tuesday afternoon, Gilbert came to the back door of the house and stuck his head in the window. Quimby said he was afraid the llama would attack someone else, so he attached a leash to the harness Gilbert was wearing and tied him to the side of the house.

“I said, ‘I ain’t backing down. You want a piece of me? Let’s go for it, girl,'” Quimby said, recalling the stare-down at the back door.

Police told him that the llama was his responsibility while they searched for the owner, he said.

Peters said she saw an article on CentralMaine.com Tuesday afternoon about the wayward llama.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s my llama!'” Peters said. “He actually just got out of his pen and, I guess, decided to go for a visit.”

Gilbert is 3 years old and the only llama at HorseFly Haven, a farm about a block away from Harvell’s House, Peters said. She said she’s “tried to instill good qualities in him.”

It was the first time Gilbert had escaped from his pen at the farm, which is being moved to Canaan, Peters said. Gilbert is a herd protector, charged with watching over sheep and goats at the farm.

Peters said llamas usually aren’t aggressive toward people, but as trained protectors they can see something new as a potential threat. “He probably saw the gentleman and was like, ‘Oh, wow’ and ran over to him,” she said. “And yes, llamas do spit. Gilbert is very good at it.”

“Now I own a llama on someone else’s property. It ticks me off,” Quimby said before Peters was located. “What if this was a bear that wandered onto the lawn? Would I have to be the owner until they found out what to do with it?”

Moores said Quimby volunteered to watch the llama for the afternoon while police searched for the owner.

“He said he would take care of it. We don’t have the facilities to keep a llama,” Moores said.

Quimby, however, said he was reluctant to care for the animal at first.

“I said I want a citizen’s arrest of this thing,” he said. “It spit on me. That’s assault. It charged at me. That’s a threat. It needs to be handcuffed, stuffed and put in jail.”

By mid-afternoon the two had warmed up to each other, however, and Quimby was hugging Gilbert and jokingly offering the animal a sip of brandy.

Still, he said he had no plans to adopt a llama any time soon.

“I love animals, women and children,” he said. “They’re all a blessing. But there’s one thing I can cross off the list, and that’s animals. Because if I love an animal, I get stuck with it.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

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Twitter: @rachel_ohm