|Photo credit:Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman|
Terrible stories are coming out of Oklahoma this week. With some towns getting 0-16 minutes of warning before the F4 or F5 tornado struck, many folks were barely able to save themselves or their families... and unfortunately lots of horses and other animals were left behind.
Dozens of horses are dead at the Orr Family Farm. The Orr family were prominent members of the horse world, breeding and training Throughbreds and boarding dozens of horses not their own.
Some horses at Blaze's Tribute Equine Rescue survived a direct hit, including one blind mare and two others recently rescued from a slaughter truck. Many others have not been so fortunate.
Lando Hyde survived the storm in a horse stall-- but believes all most or all of the 80 horses in the surrounding area are dead. He had no warning about the storm. Video here.
Plain as Bay Eventing lost all of their Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds.
Reportedly, some kill buyers are taking advantage of this situation, buying up (or even simply finding and keeping) injured and homeless horses to be sent to slaughter. I have no idea if this is true or not. However, there is a Facebook page that is apparently trying to report the names of kill buyers. Use the information with caution, as starting a witch hunt just makes things worse.
Ugh, the ugliness of the world can be awful. However, wherever there is despair, there is also hope, thanks to the heroic efforts of ordinary people.
Oklahoma veterinarians including the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Services, have stepped up to provide free or reduced cost veterinary care for horses and other animals injured in the storm. Some of them have been combing through the wreckage of homes and barns trying to help trapped or injured animals. Other non-vet folks like Yvette Fees and Toby Bogart are opening their barn doors to any horses in need of shelter while their owners rebuilt. Super kudos to them.
Many people are doing their utmost to reunite lost pets with their owners. The Lost and Found Animals of Oklahoma Tornados Facebook page is just one of the many volunteer-organized efforts to do this.
Horse Feathers Hay for the Hungry is offering to help Oklahoma horse owners in need of hay.
In many of the stories coming out of Oklahoma, there were some incredibly brave people who risked their own lives to try to save animals from the twister. A few people have actually criticized how these folks acted, some saying they should have locked horses in their barn, others saying they should have freed horses to run from danger. Quite clearly, some stabled horses were saved because they were stabled, and some were killed because they were stabled. THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER, and I call bullshit on anyone who thinks they could have done better. Personally, I would be too busy shitting my fucking pants to do anything except cower.
I still feel a little depressed, so let's move on to more hope. Camp Hope, that is.
Saint Francis Horse Rescue and Retirement, near Rosholt, WI, hosted Camp Hope this past Sunday. Camp Hope is a Stevens-Point-based weekend camp for grieving children and teenagers, and twice each year these special kids get to experience the best therapy in the world: interacting with horses.
I'm not sure why this awesome story isn't more publicized by the media. Well, for what little it's worth, North Horse officially salutes the incredible volunteers at Saint Francis!!