CSU Vets, Students Helping Horses Affected by Colo. Wildfire

Staff and students from Colorado State University's (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital are working to care for animals evacuated due to the High Park wildfire ravaging Larimer County, Colo. According to a June 14 report from the Denver Post the wildfire has now burned more than 49,700 acres and is currently 10% contained.

According to a CSU press release, veterinarians and students have been tending to evacuated large animals at The Ranch, in Loveland, Colo., the designated evacuation area for large animals displaced by the fire. Care is being provided free of charge, the release said.

Brian Miller, DVM, director of Equine Field Services at CSU; Brittney Bell, DVM; Kim Ellis, CVT, CSU's head equine nurse; and CSU veterinary students have examined and/or treated about 150 horses, among other animals, including alpacas, llamas, donkeys, sheep, goats, and calves, since beginning work at The Ranch.

"We're doing physical exams, health checks, and treating anything we've seen that needed attention," Miller said in the release. "At this point, just some minor smoke inhalation and dehydration from lack of water, some abrasions, and a few cuts.

"There's a large number that did not have time to get out," he added. "There are still plenty of animals up there that have been without water for several days."

Of the animals that weren't evacuated, some have found other ways to stay alive despite the massive blaze. A news article and video from a local NBC affiliate shows a loose horse seeking refuge from firefighters by approaching their truck.

In the CSU news release Ellis also shared a story about a herd of horses and donkeys that found safety in the chaos: "Two companion donkeys came in, and after talking to a neighbor who knows them, he is convinced the one dominant donkey kept the group of two donkeys and four draft horses safe. One of the volunteer haulers who brought this group in told me this herd was standing in a lush green meadow, and when they arrived, the lead donkey with singed whiskers walked up to him and laid his head into his chest.

"The few owners that I did meet and see reunited with their animals were very grateful for the immediate care and assessment as they were coming off of the trailers by the team," Ellis added. "What we do for the animals and see in their eyes--that's enough for me."

As a result of The Ranch becoming the large animal evacuation control center, the Colorful Colorado Horse Show scheduled to take place at the venue June 14-17 has been postponed, according to GoHorseShow.com.

According to organization's blog, The Ranch has received many donated supplies and currently has an adequate stock of feed and other animal care implements.

TheHorse.com will continue to provide updates on the High Park wildfire as more information becomes available.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, News Editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado, and enjoys photography in her spare time.

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