Saturday, May 25, 2013

Video: Oklahoma Tornado Tragedy's Legacy is Both Tragedy and Inspiration for Veterinarians and Horsemen

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You know things are bad when CNN dedicates a segment to injured horses in a natural disaster, but that's what happened on Friday when the global news network aired a story by newsman Gary Tuckman, who was on hand with Oklahoma's Joe Boecker, DVM to show in graphic detail what a tornado can do to a horse.

Hoof Blog readers around the world who think that the Oklahoma victims are strangers in a far-off place should know that someone very familiar to this blog was deeply impacted by the storm. An earlier tornado hit Shawnee, Oklahoma, including property of Michael Steward, DVM.

Michael Steward, DVM
Steward, known for his work on popularizing the "Steward Clog" wooden or plastic support system for horses with laminitis, owns Shawnee Animal Hospital in Shawnee. His clinic's web site states that they are serving as a distribution point for animal feed and hay. They particularly thank Premier Equine Veterinary Services of Whitesboro, Texas for Dr. William Rhoads' donations of hay, horse feed and cat food for the clinic, which is housing displaced animals.

"We are treating a lot of the animals, some we put down." Steward said in an email on Friday. "A lot of people are donating to the cause. We are getting a lot of donations and finding a lot of places to go with the drugs, feed, hay, etc.

"Okies are very quick to come to the aid of their neighbors," he added, "but lot of other states are sending people to volunteer to help in the massive cleanup."


This video from "The List" television shows some of the animals currently being treated at the Oklahoma State University vet school; in the video, Dr. Todd Holbrook mentions that the clinic is donating services.

Watch for the little paint in the video and Holbrook's explanation: "When she found him, he was stuck in a tree," said Holbrook. "They had to use a chainsaw to get him out of the tree."

KOSU Radio in Oklahoma had an in-depth report on the efforts to get horses to veterinary hospitals in the Moore area. The report describes work done by Amanda Eggleston, who brought her 40-foot trailer to haul horses. She mentions how difficult it is to try to help animals in disaster zones.

“A lot of people don’t realize you can’t just zip in and zip out with a horse," Amanda commented in the interview. "A lot of them, they’ve been in shock, they’re scared, they could be injured."

Donations to support this relief effort will be greatly appreciated and can be easily made online at or by calling (405) 385-5607.

Interstate Equine Services in Goldsby was expecting to be at full capacity with injured animals, although some are being referred to Oklahoma State University's hospital for surgery.  "IES would like to thank all of the donors of our tornado victims. We have received medicine, bandage materials, shampoo, truck loads of feed and hay, as well as donations for medical expenses and so much more," the clinic wrote on its Facebook page, which shows some of the storm victims.

You'd like to think that everything is moving smoothly in recovering from the storm, and the extra efforts expended by veterinarians and horsemen to help is extraordinary. On the other hand, some horse owners are frustrated by efforts to recover or account for their horses.

Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarterhorse Racing Association, is concerned about how the situation is being handled--or not, as the case may be. “There was no system,” she said, in an interview with the Red Dirt Report in Oklahoma. “It’s chaos. No one is in charge anywhere. People are walking around in shock and disbelief.”

Shauf was referring to the situation at Celestial Acres, a racehorse training center where individual trainers house and train horses that race at regional tracks. Approximately 100 horses may have been in the barns and paddocks at Celestial Acres when the tornado hit, but because so many trainers were involved, it's hard to account for the horses and their whereabouts. The Orr Family Farm, located on the same property as Celestial Acres, is planning a large cleanup day today, with the help of volunteers and heavy equipment.
To learn more: 
American Quarter Horse Association report on tornado aid ("Oklahoma Horsemen Lose Livelihoods in Tornado")

 AQHA: A Tornado Survivor
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