Many people own large animals such as horses and cattle, which are valuable as an investment, income, or have sentimental value. It is because of these reasons that owners will put themselves in danger to rescue their animals in a time of need. To protect the owners and the animals they wish to rescue, special training has been developed with methods and equipment to assist in these particularly challenging extrications. Large animal rescue is nothing new. Back in 1867, Massachusetts had the first equine ambulance equipped with a crude sling for its patients. Today however, techniques and equipment have evolved to make rescuing large animals safer, not only for the animal, but for the first responders as well.
Animals hold such a high status in American culture, that people will often become amateur rescuers to try to help animals in need. Rescuing large animals (cattle, horses, llamas, alpacas, pigs, goats, and sheep) is more challenging than small animal rescue mainly due to the mass and volume of the actual animal. A cat or dog can be easily carried while the previous cannot. Amateur rescuers trying to save a cow that has fallen in a raving will often use the animals head, neck, and legs as anchor points to pull from and this often causes the animal to pull back and fight rescuers instead of helping. In fact, this method could injure the animal further. Proper training makes these rescues not only more successful, but more efficient. In the UK, three counties that had training and equipment improved their animal rescue success rate from 4-10% to 96%!
In past years, if an owner found their horse in need of rescue, such as being stuck in the mud, they would call friends and neighbors for assistance to free the animal, as is sometimes the case today. Tractors, winches, and ropes are often the equipment of choice for this rescue, but without proper training, the horse and sometimes rescuers, are injured and even killed as a result of the extrication. Today many owners call 911 and expect their tax paid and volunteer, first responders to be able to rescue the animal safely. Unfortunately, in an informal survey of law and fire service personnel by the authors of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, it was discovered that only about 5% of first responders knew something about handling large animals and even fewer than that felt comfortable about handling a large animal. This shows a need in more training to safely rescue larger animals.
The rescue of an animal being entrapped (mud), recumbent and unable to get up, caught in a confined space (such as a collapsed barn), fallen into a trench, ravine, or water, entangled in fencing or panels, loose from confinement, and vehicle accidents (trailer tips, collision with vehicle), is considered an incident and can overwhelm a department. Without proper training and equipment, these rescues can consume hours on end and also claim valuable livestock lives or even rescuers lives.
Untrained first responders also often forget to assess the situation before rescue. This leads to the animal not receiving initial life-support or medical attention, which is often easier to administer while the animal remains trapped than when it is freed. For example, if you have a horse stuck in the mud for several hours, it will probably be dehydrated and it is much easier to start an IV while the animal is ‘stuck’ than when it is freed and perhaps wanting to run from the crowd of people. The lack of planning before the rescue also often includes not planning for what to do with the animal once it is out of its predicament. Has containing the animal been thought of so that it doesn’t run back into the mud that it was just rescued from originally or into a busy street? Has transportation been thought of to get the animal away from the area, or veterinarian been requested to treat the animal for trauma or injuries?
To learn more about Large Animal Emergency rescue, and how we can help you please feel free to contact:
Tracy & David Crosby
TD Specialty Services
(413) 464-0125 or (413) 575-3868
NOTE: TD Specialty Services currently have a one-hour presentation for area departments and clubs for a quick introduction on what they offer for services and training. They carry the NFPA 1670 standard on Animal Technical Rescue standard in chapter 17.
They are also raising funds for more equipment. The new equipment will be available for use during trainings as well as to assist in rescue events throughout Western Massachusetts and Eastern New York.
Please inquire if you would like to donate!
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David and Tracy Crosby started TD Specialty’s in 2010 as a horse and livestock transportation company with the long-term goal to offer emergency rescue and transport. They realized the Western MA, Eastern NY area had no such service for this service. David has a long history as an over the road transport driver, firefighter, emergency rescue and horse owner. Tracy, also with extensive fire-rescue training, is a graduate of UMass Amherst, Stockbridge School of Agriculture in Equine Industries, and has owned and trained horses for over 25 years. As a member of the Hampshire County Sherriff’s Department Mounted Unit, Tracy has assisted in the training of their horses and competed, along with others from the unit, all along the east coast and in Canada, bringing back numerous awards. Together they have trained with renowned instructors in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. They are current with NIMS, ICS, CPR and different levels of first aid. They are also members of the Berkshire County DART, Northeast Pyrenees Rescue and a foster family for them and manage Brookside Farm in Lanesboro MA. They reside in Lanesboro MA with their 3 ½ yr old son Quintin, dogs Blitz, Hachi, foster pyrs and other various farm animals, large and small.
Tracy + David Crosby
TD Specialty Services
T (413) 464-0125
T (413) 575-3868