Friday, February 11, 2011

Animal Rescue

I realize it's been over a month since I've blogged. I've had plenty to write about but I've been so busy or too exhausted. The last month or so have been a little more than a normal person could bear. We've been sick, the pipes have frozen, we lost water, the weather has been unbearably cold and last week we got three feet of snow. Last Friday the stallions, Amar and Sharif broke out of their pasture to go socialize with the mares. Unfortunately, we were visiting cousins in Steamboat Springs and didn't get home until 10:00 that night. Needless to say, it was a long night. I think we finally crawled into bed at 11:30 cold and exhausted. And then Tuesday night they did it again. Fortunately, we found them about 1:30 in the afternoon and were able to get them situated and the fence patched up by about 4:30. Unfortunately, it was 7 degrees and there was three feet of snow on the ground. The owner flew out to Cabo, Mexico yesterday morning and I had to take the kiddos into town for school. Everybody was safe and sound and feeding quietly when I left. When we got back from town to do afternoon chores at 4:30, we found Amar out of his pasture and straddling a fence trying to get to the mares. His stomach and front end were in the mares' pasture and his back two legs were barely touching the ground on the outside of the fence. The top piece of steel was bent into a "V" shape. He was quiet and a little out of it. I didn't know how long he had been there but he was covered in sweat, even though the temperature hadn't exceeded 35 degrees. I was concerned that he may have cut off the circulation in his rear legs. It didn't look good. I silently prayed that the Lord would help me, protect Amar and not to let him be lame or have to be put down. Ike was with me and we tried to drop the fence but his 1600 lbs +/- 200 lbs pressing down proved to be too much. The section of fence it was hooked onto was frozen to the ground in three feet of snow, as well. I thought that if we could get something under his back legs, he might have enough leverage to jump over the fence or get his weight off the fence so we could drop it. We grabbed a couple bales of hay and I instructed Ike to push it under his hoof when I said go. I used my shoulder to push his weight onto his left leg and lifted his right leg. We were able to get his hoof on the bale of hay but I just didn't have enough strength to lift the other one. After about twenty minutes, I knew I couldn't do it alone. I needed some manpower. I ran inside to call for help. I called MacGyver at the station to see if he could get ahold of our dispatch to get an assist up here. I called the vet and got them on their way. We fed the others to keep them busy and away from the action and tried to get him on the bale of hay again. No good. After about an hour I heard the sirens and shouts from the firefighters. After a few minutes they were gone. Again, I knew they couldn't find me and wondered what to do. I knew the vet would know where we were. I prayed they would intercept the firefighters so we could get some extra manpower and power tools. The vet got stuck on the incline and had to back her truck the rest of the way down the mountain. One of the volunteer firefighters was able to get her truck up top where I was and the vet caught a ride with her. I gave the vet a quick run-down as more firefighters started showing up. With more hands and power we were able to get him up on three bales of hay and relieve the stress on his abdomen. By this time it was 6:30, dark, and the temperature was quickly dropping. Everybody seemed to be out of ideas. While we worked that angle, I asked if they had a saw that would cut the steel pins on the fence so we could drop it. By the time they got back with the saw and had it running, Amar had tried to use the bales of hay just as I had hoped. Unfortunately, he got his right fetlock hung up on the fence and was now balancing vicariously on three legs. It made me cringe. The Animal Control Officer arrived about that time and asked if we needed help. The vet requested a transport to the local Equine ER Clinic so he could be checked out and help for observation. She had to go back down the mountain to get radio contact. It seemed to take forever, but the firefighters were finally able to get the saw running. I'm sure the weather didn't help. But as soon as they got it running strong and started to cut into the pins, Amar freaked out enough to get the rest of the way over the fence. We all cheered. The vet and I ran aound the fence to secure him and check him out. We were both pleased to see him being able to hold his weight on all four legs. The relief was short. As soon as he was free of the fence, the shock started in and he began shaking violently and swaying side to side like he was getting ready to go down. I called out to the firefighters to "block traffic" from the other horses who were curious to what was going on. She quickly sedated him to calm him down and we got him back outside the fence and over to the single light pole so we could check him out. His shaking grew worse and I feared he was decreasing rapidly. His gums were pale and he didn't look so good. I asked her if he needed some fluids for the shock (which is one of the first things they do for people who are in shock and have had some kind of trauma). She said that would be a good idea but she would have to get down to her truck to get it, which was a half a mile down and then back up. Somebody offered to give her a ride down. I think she was gone twenty or thirty minutes. The Animal Control Officer said everybody was getting stuck and were having to back down the mountain but they were blocking the main road below. She called for a horse trailer but didn't think they would be able to get it up the road. She wanted to know if we thought we could walk him down to the road. By the time the vet returned, Amar was eating some snow and nibbling at the bales of hay he had previously been resting on, and his shaking had decreased dramatically. The vet explained that, unlike our human counterparts, a catheter (IV) was a surgical procedure and would have to be sewn into his neck and would need some assistance to keep it sterile. It reminded me of old war movies I'd seen of the army medics doing field surgery to stabilize someone for transport. That was basically what she was doing. I always find it so fascinating watching them work! I held Amar's head, not because he was struggling but because he was sedated and wanted to drop his head. I had to get my shoulder under there to be able to support that kind of weight. Once we got the IV started, the ACO told us the transport was on its way and that we might want to start the trek down the mountain. He did pretty good, even though he was wobbly at first. He woke up enough halfway down that she had to give him more sedative. That made for a much more compliant boy! The road was, of course, slick so we just took it slow. Once we turned the corner and saw the flashing blue and red lights, he startled a little so we called down to have them turn off the lights. I couldn't see the trailer but assured it was coming. When we reached the bottom, there were SO and fire vehicles absolutely everywhere blocking traffic. After a few minutes two more ACOs arrived hauling the trailer. They got turned around and loaded Amar. It was about 8:30 by then. The vet showed them the way to the hospital and one of the firefighter was kind enough to give me a ride back up the hill. I asked him if he wouldn't mind helping me get Sharif into Mia and Serena's pen so he wouldn't be left alone all night. He graciously complied and was able to lead Sharif in beautifully while I distracted Mia and Serena. I took him back to his truck and Ike and I headed home. It was about 9:00 when we got home. We all ate a rice bowl and I sent the kiddos to bed. It had been a long day! I had to email Gary to let him know what had happened and so he could contact the ER Clinic. I had know idea what would happen next, but I knew he was NOT going to be happy. I called the vets to make sure they had my contact info, made a fire, took a hot shower, prayed desperately that Amar would be okay, and then crashed. I was so glad the day was over but I knew the next day had its own set of troubles!

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