Making strides in bushfire recovery
Cheyanne now fully recovered from the fires
Among the victims were badly injured pets and livestock, including eight horses admitted to the Equine Health Performance Centre, as the fires burnt more than 82,000 hectares of land.
On the critical list was Cheyanne, an 18-year-old mare, that arrived at the centre suffering from severe burns to her face, legs and tail. She also had signs of smoke inhalation and a wound to her front leg.
Robin van den Boom, Associate Professor in Equine Health at Roseworthy campus' School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, was one of the vets treating horses as they arrived at the clinic.
“It initially looked very somber for Cheyanne. The injury to her front leg had potential complications and she showed separation at the coronary band at the top of the hooves. It was touch and go for a week,” he says.
Cheyanne’s owners had already lost one horse to injuries from the fire and emotions were running high at the prospect of losing another. Robin and his team got to work immediately.
“We spent a lot of time and effort on Cheyanne’s recovery. The burns and smoke inhalation were the most pressing injuries to attend to and required constant monitoring to see how she was responding to treatment,” he says.
“The burns on the horses were hard to assess as the full extent of their severity did not become clear for weeks in some cases.”
To treat the burns, horses were initially cooled, fluids replaced, pain relief administered and burns cleaned and treated with ointment. The daily cleaning of the wounds was a time intensive process, taking one to two hours per horse.
To treat the smoke inhalation, Cheyanne was given oxygen through a nasal tube and vets performed an endoscopy of her airways to remove damaged tissue.
After three weeks of treatment, Cheyanne was given a clean bill of health and allowed to return home.
“Following our own experience we were able to get in touch with vets in the Western Australia fires to share information and donated leftover bandaging material and medications,” Robin says.
The RSPCA received donations of over $84,000 which covered medical costs for treating pets and livestock injured in the fire and their recovery at Roseworthy.
RSPCA South Australia Chief Executive Officer, Tim Vasudeva, says that at times of crisis like the Pinery bushfires, collaboration between organisations helps the greatest number of animals in need.
“RSPCA South Australia works closely with Roseworthy’s Veterinary Health Centres year round, and when the bushfires hit, we were able to use our fundraising website to reach out to the community and help raise funds for fire-affected animals,” he says.
Robin and his team were also assisted by other vets and volunteers who helped with cleaning, stabling and general care of horses and many donations were received from the community in the form of medical supplies, feed and bedding material.
Story by Renée Capps