Ice Storm Disrupts Veterinary Services in Kentucky

Despite the disaster of ice, snow, and cold weather, all three of the major veterinary clinics in Central Kentucky are up and running, although Hagyard-Davidson-McGee is on emergency power. Dr. Doug Byars, head of the medicine clinic at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee in Lexington, said generators are keeping services going for the horses, but surgery is on an emergency basis for the moment.

Byars said he contacted Kentucky Utilities, the major electricity supplier in the area, so the hospital would be put on the priority list. He doesn’t know when power will be restored.

"The lab is running, and all the pumps for fluids and the freezers and refrigerators are going," said Byars. "We’ve got heat lamps for the foals (in intensive care), but no heat for the people. A lot of people have brought horses into the clinic, so people are finding problems out there."

Dr. Bill Bernard, head of internal medicine at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, said they never lost power during the ice storm. He said a lot of the staff doesn’t have power at home and are staying at the student housing at the clinic property.

"Make sure horses have water available," advised Bernard, who said a couple of impaction colics had been brought to the clinic. "Studies have shown that horses given warm water will drink more than horses given cold water," but he acknowledged that many farms are without power for warm water for horse or human.

Dan Routh, practice manager at Woodford Veterinary Clinic, said the hospital in Versailles didn’t lose power, but the ambulatory veterinarians were having a hard time of it.

"There are a lot of farms with no power, so we can’t use ultrasound (for ovulation or pregnancy checks and other procedures)," said Routh. "Some farms also have electric gates that don’t work. And the back roads are so treacherous (with downed, ice-covered limbs) that they can’t get through."

He said that even if a farm has a mare ready to breed, many breeding sheds aren’t open because you can’t get through on the roads to get to the farms. Also, many of the phones are out, there’s no electricity in the breeding sheds, and farms are having a hard time getting personnel in to work.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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