Tuesday, January 24, 2012
There seem to be a lot of barn fires lately. I read about one in Barrett Township Pennsylvania that killed all nine horses, chickens and a pig. January 20, 2012: A barn fire in Sussex County New Jersey. All 22 horses perished in the fire. In June, Boyd Martin's barn in Chester County, PA caught fire and several horses were lost. August 2011, Dutch Mills Farm in Washington.....Reading about these barn fires sickens me. I think about the horses (and other animals) and their humans. Such tragedy. The causes are varied. Arson, hay, electrical, unknown. How can we prevent them? What can we do to make our horses safe. So many comments in response to these articles place the blame on the barn owners regarding lack of sprinkler systems, fire alarms, hay storage and a general plan for getting the horses out. I have boarded at very few barns that have sprinkler systems. Smoke detectors are sometimes present as well, but I am not sure how effective they are either. Barns burn so quickly. I guess if people are living in apartments above the barn they have a better chance of getting some of the horses out. Another problem is actually safely removing the horses from the burning building. We were fortunate at Pink Star that there were only 4 horses in the barn at the time. If it had been summer, the barns would have been full of horses. In addition, the first responding fire company was familiar enough with horses to know what to do. But what else can be done? Fire drills? Some fire departments say that they would prefer that the horses wear their halters while in their stalls. But many of us have seen horses have terrible accidents while wearing their halters. That is far more common than a barn fire. My husband had made a suggestion, and we are working on this. I am not at liberty to discuss it just yet, as we don't even know if it is feasible.... In my last post I mentioned that I had been contacted by someone with a barn fire survivor from the Dutch Mills Farm fire. That night I received an email from someone in NY whose barn burned down. She was able to rescue her two horses, but her pet chickens and rabbit did not survive. XXX herself was burned getting her horses out. One made it out unharmed, butthe other was severely burned, and "on fire" when she pulled him out. His injuries are similar to Suki's. But she said that spirit and will to live are evident. XXX spent three weeks in the hospital and did not see her horse until then. She was horrified by what she saw, but said that his personality was normal as he demanded treats from her! When I spoke to her, the love for her horses was apparent. She would run into that burning barn all over again to save her beloved horses. I admire her strength and courage! I referred her and her vet to speak with Dr. Fugaro, and told her what I have been doing as far as wound care and maintenance. These two calls, so close together have prompted me to write guidelines for post-burn care. I may even submit it to one of the horse care magazines. The after care remains an unknown to many people, once their veterinarians have saved the horses and sent them home. Suki's experience can help and inspire them. Everyday people tell me what an inspiration she is to horses and humans alike. I just wish there were not so many fires.... Short post today, but my son and I have a stomach flu that we are recovering from..... Our new friend took a bunch of beautiful photographs on Sunday. Here is one of Suki playing in the snow. Just look at how much fun she is having! Is that a happy, healthy horse, or what??