Camel bites, kicks man after escaping Palmdale animal sanctuary

PALMDALE, Calif.

The animal got free around 8:30 a.m. near the Angeles Forest Highway and the 14 Freeway. It made its way to a neighboring property, where Steve Brefka, who is in his 70s, attempted to corral the animal.

That's when the camel became aggressive, biting and kicking the man multiple times. Skylar Dossenbach, the victim's daughter, said the animal then knocked her father to the ground and stomped on him.

"Apparently, the camel knocked him down, bit him and had him by the head on the ground and was kicking him," described Dossenbach.

Dossenbach said neighbors saw the commotion and came to help, but the camel turned and chased them away. She said they had to get in their car and drive away to escape being attacked.

Brefka's neighbors rushed him to Palmdale Regional Medical Center, where he was treated for severe lacerations to his head.

Dossenbach said various animals, including a buffalo and an ostrich, have escaped from that animal sanctuary in the past - as many as five times this year so far.

"Everybody who lives here has horses, dogs, animals, so we try the best we can just to corral them, because the highway's right nearby," she said. "We're always out there trying to help and corral them, but when somebody gets hurt like that, it turns it into a whole different thing."

Neighbors, animal control and sheriff's officials were eventually able to round up the camel into a fenced area, where it was no longer a threat. The camel was then taken away to the Lancaster Animal Care Center in the 5200 block of West Avenue I.

It remains unclear how the animal escaped. Officials said the owner did not have a permit for the camel and now faces several charges.

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