(this story is provided by the Humane Society of the United States)
WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2009) -- Just before Tuesday's presidential inaugural parade was set to begin in the nation's capitol, alarming news came over The Humane Society of the United States radio: "Horse hit by truck at 4th and Pennsylvania."
The HSUS Emergency Services team swung into action.
With approximately two million people on hand in the nation's capital to celebrate the inauguration of President Barack Obama, The HSUS had been asked by the D.C. Department of Health to provide animal welfare services for this historic event. HSUS staff and volunteers were spread out across the National Mall to assist with animal emergencies, and The HSUS' mobile command vehicle was situated inside the perimeter of the staging zone to provide support for the police horses and dogs on site.
When the emergency report of an injured horse was sounded, HSUS and Health Department staff immediately alerted Lt. Col. John Stott of the U.S. Army Veterinary Services and the Days End Horse Farm Rescue equine ambulance which was on call with HSUS. The group rushed to the aid of Mouse, a10-year-old appaloosa horse who had suffered a visibly mangled leg and multiple lacerations.
When responders arrived on site they found a bloody scene: Mouse was lying on the ground with his hindquarters suspended in the air and his rear leg caught in the front grill of a heavy-duty truck. Incredibly, Dr. Stott was able to stabilize the horse before he was loaded onto the ambulance and transported to the Prince George's County Equestrian Center.
"When The HSUS first came upon the scene, things were looking dire for Mouse. I did not think he would survive," said Scotlund Haisley, senior director of Emergency Services at The HSUS. "Twelve men and women labored for nearly two hours to untangle Mouse's leg so that he could be transported for further treatment. It is an immense relief to know that this horse is expected to recover from his life-threatening injuries."
Another happy ending played out earlier in the day for Showtime, a palomino appaloosa cross from the Michigan Multi Jurisdictional Drill Team and Color Guard. A mayday for help was called into the HSUS mobile command unit, stating that Showtime had fallen ill and needed immediate medical attention. HSUS staff and Dr. Stott of the U.S. Army Veterinary Services rushed to the horse's side. After receiving medical attention, Showtime recovered from his gastric distress and was able to participate in the parade.
"Showtime is 23, and is the only surviving horse from the 1993 inaugural parade," said his handler, Fran Veal II. "He is quite a special animal, and I am glad that the Department of Health, The HSUS and Dr. Stott were on site to take care of him."
Although pets were not allowed inside the inaugural festivities, The HSUS was on site to respond to any emergencies, and the HSUS headquarters in downtown Washington was set aside as a temporary shelter for dogs. For the most part, however, attendees heeded warnings to leave their pets at home. HSUS staff and volunteers were prepared for the worst, but thankfully did not face any emergency situations with ?civilian' animals in the inauguration parade - although the mobile command center served as a warming station for resting police dogs.
The HSUS was joined by a number of volunteers from the International Fund for Animal Welfare, United Animal Nations, the ASPCA, and Noah's Wish.