Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Luck, Love and Toxins

He is a two month old colt. He doesn’t walk - he staggers. His head is either hanging down or twisted off to the side. He had forgotten how to nurse. He is oblivious to what is happening around him. He got kicked in the head by another wild horse. Blood work has shown that his liver enzymes are three times above normal. The liver is a filter. When it is compromised, more toxins build up in the body, including the brain. Without intervention, within days, death is certain.

On Monday morning, we brought a wild mare and her foal from Swan Beach. We got a call from Currituck County Dispatch about a foal in distress around 3:15 on Sunday. In the middle of a fierce thunderstorm with torrential rain and vivid lightening, CWHF staff and volunteers responded immediately. A special thanks also goes out to Ocean Rescue staffer, Patrick (I apologize from not knowing his last name) for his assistance as well. We were able to pen the foal and his mother in a beach house carport. On the advice of Dominion Equine Clinic, we treated the foal with medication onsite, and the homeowner and her daughter, kindly checked on them periodically after we left at 9:00 p.m. The foal did not improve and by 8:15 a.m. Monday, he was on our trailer with his mother.

Dr. Bart Kite met us at Wrangler Farms and thoroughly examined the foal and drew blood from both mother and foal. We continued treatment with DMSO both intravenously and with paste, as well as injections of banamine for pain. The foal continued to show no signs of improvement and we prepared ourselves for the worst.

Dr. Kite returned Tuesday with the results of the blood tests. The foal had ingested something toxic. We administered IV medicine again and as we were discussing what the course of action should be, the foal attempted to nurse for the first time in 48 hours. Momma wasn’t at all happy initially but eventually allowed him to nurse for a few minutes until he lost interest. Wesley (our Herd Manager) was able to get about an ounce of milk replacer in him via baby bottle before he collapsed. We decided to aggressively treat him another day and we named him “Suerte”, Spanish for “Lucky.” We named momma, “Amarosa”, or Love

He nursed several times during the night and at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Wesley reported that the foal’s motor skills seemed slightly improved. He is still not out of the woods by any means but we are finally encouraged.

What is NOT encouraging is the fact that he ingested something poisonous. If you live on the north beach, PLEASE, do not dump your antifreeze or anything else into the sound, the canals, ponds, puddles, or into the sand. The horses rely on what grows on the land and they drink the water. If it is poisoned – so are they.

With luck and the best veterinary care available, we pray that we can beat the toxins and restore this foal to a quality life. It is not just our job – it is our passion.

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