Colorado State University’s Equine Hostpital Treats Equine Victims of Colorado Tornado

In addition to damaging hundreds of homes and businesses, the tornado that ripped through Windsor and surrounding areas last week wreaked havoc on many farms and injured a number of large animals. Equine veterinarians at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital were among many area veterinarians to treat injured horses and provide emergency services for owners and their animals, all victims of last week’s tornado.

Dr. Bruce Connally, a veterinarian on the hospital’s Equine Field Service, treated five horses in the Windsor area who were injured in the tornado – three client horses and two of his own. Most horses suffered from multiple lacerations caused by flying debris. While treating a client’s horse in Windsor with the help of senior veterinary students, Connally received word that his own property in Wellington was damaged and three of his seven horses could not be found. One of his foals had been lifted by the tornado, out of the corral, and deposited unharmed onto a nearby county road. By the time he returned home, his neighbors had found all of his horses and returned them safely to him. Other than minor lacerations and bruising, all were fine.

"The most amazing thing about the experience has been how the community has pulled together," Connally, also a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said.  "I’ve seen neighbors reaching out to neighbors and that’s one of the only ways to survive this kind of event. I certainly appreciated my neighbors helping out with my animals while I was treating others."

In addition to the Equine Field Service providing on site emergency treatment at local farms, a team of Colorado State University veterinarians led by Dr. JoLynn Joyce treated horses at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital with more extensive injuries. Horses were treated at the hospital for multiple lacerations as well as shock and dehydration.

"It was a team effort to provide the best care and best possible outcomes," Joyce said. "The tornado was a surprise for this area and we are happy we were available to provide service for horses and their owners impacted by this tragedy."

Two horses treated by Joyce and her team of surgical and medical residents and senior veterinary students were hospitalized over the weekend and are currently in stable condition with a good prognosis.

CSU veterinarians recommend horse owners take the following steps to help prepare for emergency events such as this one.

– Make contact with neighbors and be sure everyone has multiple halters, leads, ropes and first-aid kits on hand.

– First-aid kits should be stocked with bandage materials to treat lacerations and stop any bleeding while waiting for veterinarians to arrive.

– Have pain medications on hand such as Phenylbutazone (bute) or Banamine.

– Make sure horses are current on their vaccines, especially tetanus.

– If your horse is injured, call your local veterinarian or CSU’s Equine Field Service to have a veterinarian evaluate your horse and treat him on the farm if possible.

– If a wound or wounds are bleeding excessively, a wound is over a joint, a horse will not bear weight on one of its limbs, or the horse is showing signs of severe lameness, the horse may need to be hospitalized for treatment.

– Shock and dehydration is another concern during emergencies. Horses that are shaking or that are severely dehydrated may need IV fluids and hospitalization.

As well as providing veterinary care from routine treatment to complex diagnosis and surgery, the Equine Hospital at the James L. Voss Teaching Hospital provides 24-hour service to treat emergency cases. The hospital also serves as a referral center for local veterinarians to treat horses that require hospitalization.

The James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital may be contacted 24 hours a day by calling (970) 221-4535.