From Christina, I recently got to know author F. J. Thomas when I was a guest on her blog. Today, she returns the favor and appears at Time for Love with a post that deals with a very important topic — large-animal rescue. Although there are some graphic elements, please read her post. I share her hope that readers might be moved to help in any way possible.
Large Animal Disaster Rescue
by F. J. Thomas
Lost Betrayal, a story about a woman who loses her ranch and her horse to a tornado, came out in early March of this year. I’m often asked what inspired me as an animal lover to write such a horrific story that includes such graphic details as a horse that’s been skinned alive.
The short answer is surprisingly simple yet one that few people are aware of – large animal disaster rescue. In any disaster, large animals are the last to be rescued.
Years ago, when hurricane Floyd hit the coast of the Carolinas I was indirectly involved in getting much needed supplies to some vets in the disaster area. It was through that experience that I learned what can happen physically and mentally to any large animal that goes through that type of experience.
One of the horses that the supplies were intended for was an aged stallion that was only survivor of the farm. The stallion and two mares were in the water for three days because there was not enough help to rescue them. One mare drowned the second day. The other mare died of exhaustion immediately upon being brought to dry land.
Because he’d been in contaminated water for three days, the skin on the stallion’s legs was sloughing off and he was badly infected. Well-meaning but unknowledgeable people gave him antibiotics for the infection which immediately caused a reaction and the stallion was blinded. That story has stayed with me all these years and was the original inspiration for Lost Betrayal and has been re-kindled every time I see a disaster in a rural area.
Last year, when the tornadoes went through Moore, Oklahoma I was a large barrel race in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. At one point in time, we were under a tornado warning for about three hours that same day. There was no shelter for us or our horses to go to. We just had to ride out the best we could in one of the buildings while our own horses waited in the thin metal sheds and others rode it out in the vinyl temporary stalls in the parking lot. It was pretty scary for a gal from Tennessee who’s not used to tornadoes!
Then the next day, we saw the news and the devastation of the horse farm that had been hit. I knew then I had to finish the book. My heart ached to go help personally, especially since it wasn’t as far as it normally would have been. But I didn’t have the financial resources to just take off and help. Later I did have the opportunity to give to a Jockey fund and to a local vet who was assisting with helping horses injured from the storm.
As I mentioned earlier, large animals of all kinds are the last to be rescued in any disaster. Large animal rescue is not a high priority, it requires a special skill set, and the needs for large animals are something that majority of the public never hears about. While entities such as the Red Cross and the small animal Humane Society do great work to help people and easily rescued animals, large animal efforts often receive no press at all. The graphic needs of large animals are just as important and devastating to watch go unmet. Not everyone has the skills to rescue a thousand pound animal that is scared and can’t be reasoned with.
My hope in writing Lost Betrayal is that through its shocking details, it brings to light the reality of the plight of large animals in a disaster and that people will start seeking out ways to help. At the current time, large animal rescue groups are loosely organized. Hopefully with more awareness these small groups will be able to grow to meet the large animal needs that arise from tornadoes, floods, and fires.
An active barrel racer and horse show judge, F.J. Thomas lives with her husband on her small horse farm in east Tennessee. When she’s not working at her regular job in healthcare, she’s either writing the next book or riding the next horse. A cowgirl at heart, she’s written several children’s books and a non-fiction about showing horses, as well as her latest release, Lost Betrayal which is available on Amazon.
Writing blog: http://fjthomasblog.wordpress.com
Horse blog: http://qheventer.wordpress.com/
Farm website: http://www.fairweatherfarmtn.com