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Pets Large & Small

Emergency Call or Episode of "COPS"?

Dr. Kim Brokaw DVM


Dr. Kim Brokaw and her horse Bart

(Feb, 2011) It was New Yearís Eve and I was called out to treat a horse. Arkansas is a retired police horse. He now belongs to a loving family and his sole job, in addition to hanging out in a pasture and eating, is to take a young girl on trail rides. I have seen him on a variety of occasions although usually for fairly routine matters or to track the progression of his melanomas. While an older horse, who suffers from some of the typical maladies of an aging horse, he has for the most part been fairly healthy. That day I was called out to fix a laceration on his leg. Arkansasís owner is a paramedic and she said that she had cleaned the wound and while it was small, it was going to need stitches.

I drove to the farm and as I pulled into the driveway, I saw multiple unmarked police and Department of Natural Resources vehicles. The driveway is narrow so in order to park, I blocked them all in. The owner reassured me that I could park there as the police would be there for a while. However, no explanation for why was given at that time. I have learned not to ask questions. If clients want to share information with me, they will, and sometimes I would just rather not know.

I proceeded to the barn, and for once decided not to leave my car keys in the ignition and instead locked the work truck and took the keys with me. While someone might assume it was because I didnít want whatever criminal they were tracking to steal my vehicle, the real reason was I didnít want to get in trouble with the police for not locking up a vehicle with medications in it (although most of my medications are antibiotics, NSAIDs which are the horsey equivalent of Motrin, and other items that are not particularly useful to anyone except a horse person).

I examined Arkansas and found a superficial laceration on the front of his cannon bone that would need around a half dozen sutures. While he is a stoic horse, especially with all the extra excitement, I gave him some sedatives in addition to pain killers before thoroughly examining the wound. Luckily the laceration was not deep enough that it damaged the extensor tendon. I cleaned and applied local anesthetic to the wound and started to get ready to suture it together. I looked up and saw an armed officer near me. They had found the subjectís car and were having it towed away. The police and DNR were searching the woods looking for the suspect. T

hey also needed to move my car. Officer or not, anyone with a weapon would have no problem getting me to surrender my keys to them. Suddenly I heard shouts coming from the woods about fifty feet away. "Stop. This is the police. Drop your weapon. I said drop your weapon! Get down on the ground!" Good thing Arkansas is a retired police horse who is used to gunfire. He stood there patiently throughout the entire ordeal. At this point I was finished with the laceration repair, had given Arkansas a tetanus shot, and made sure the owner had anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. My thoughts moved to "I want to leave here before I get shot." Suddenly the police and DNR agent surrounded the man and pinned him to the ground. He was dragged off to a police car, and presumably to jail. Later I found out that he was arrested and charged with ten different offenses including resisting arrest. While I appreciate that my job is not boring, at times I wish for a little less excitement. The real hero in this situation was Arkansas. Horses are well known for being flighty animals with a tendency to run off with almost no provocation. Arkansas stood stock still and let me work on him while a major crime scene loudly unfolded around him. I wish every horse could have that ability to realize that he is in the middle of a crisis, and to listen to the people in charge.

Dr. Brokaw practices her love for caring for animals at the Walkersville Veterinary Clinic

Read other articles by Dr. Kim Brokaw