The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Alliance of Wild Horse Advocates Re-Posts 3rd Edition You Be the Judge…

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on January 12, 2010


Alliance of Wild Horses & Animal Law Coalition re-posted You Be the Judge, 3rd Edition on their websites. They also got another opinion:

We asked Corrine Davis, DVM, PHD, a retired university veterinary pathologist, wild horse advocate and an adopter of a several wild horses (and a burro) to review the necropsy report.  Her comments are as follows: 

This exam as described could easily be carried out in the field. The chest being full of blood and the finding of a ruptured pulmonary artery are consistent and could easily explain acute death.  The exact nature of the heart defect was not described. The ventricular hyperplasia and dilated atria could have been secondary to a primary heart defect.  The usual congenital defects are either septal defects (holes), malpositioning of great vessels, or failure of fetal structures to close. I saw no estimate of weight of the animal.  I think the conclusions are valid and that the cause of death was due to rupture of an aneurysm in a great vessel. Cardiac defects are relatively common congenital defects in many species including man.

“You Lie” article title on Animal Law Coalition website – http://www.animallawcoalition.com/horse-slaughter/article/1130

In the article, you find a link that redirects you to the following: http://www.aowha.org/war/calico0909.html

Issue: The Calico Mountains Complex wild horse roundup.

Update: 1/2/10 on-site observation of the “Black Rock East” trap site at Paiute Meadows.

Persons present:

Craig Downer, Cloud Foundation
Elyse Gardner, Cloud Foundation

The following report is based on a telephone conversation with Craig Downer who returned to the trap site on Saturday when gather operations had resumed.

Objective.

To determine if gather operations were conducted safely and followed appropriate gather management protocols.

Background.

(Please see the previous page on this subject.)

Observations.

They day was cold and icy. The path of travel for the horses at the trap wings and inside the trap consisted primarily of hard packed snow. It did not appear that sand, straw or hay had been spread out to restore traction at the throat of the trap wings or in the sorting areas. Mr. Downer reported that there was an undesirable amount of slipping and sliding among the horses entering the trap and during the sorting process.

Mr. Downer further observed that the horses were not provided sufficient time to settle while in the trap system which seemed to contribute to the agitation of the animals in the corrals. One stallion jumped out of the trap system and escaped, pushing through a barbed wire fence on the ranch property to do so. (The observers nicknamed the stallion, “Freedom.”)

While Mr. Downer expressed concerns over unnecessary risks associated with the footing conditions in the trap at and the pace in which horses were being handled, he did not report any accidents or injuries aside from the stallion likely receiving barbed wire cuts during his escape.

BLM reported that a foal had died during the previous day’s operations. BLM would not let Mr. Downer inspect the foal. A necropsy report was provided to Mr. Downer, who forwarded it to us. We had a retired veterinary pathologist (DVM, PhD) who is also a wild horse advocate and adopter review the report. Her conclusions were that the report as described was valid.

The report and various comments can be viewed here.

While the foal could have had some preexisting condition, the circumstances following this incident have led advocates to speculate why BLM refused to let an experienced range ecologist inspect the foal. Not only would Dr. Kane have been able to point out his findings, but a valuable anatomy opportunity was lost. More importantly, inspection of the foal would have removed any doubts that the necropsy report was correct.

Mr. Downer reported that he did not observe BLM providing birth control to and (intentionally) releasing any horses back onto the range.

– – –
This report will be revised as may be appropriate after it has been posted.

Even further, you are redirected again… http://www.aowha.org/documents/calico_necropsy01.html

 Necropsy Report

 Date:                          1/1/10

Prepared by:           Albert Kane, DVM, MPVM, PhD

 Location/Event:      Calico Complex Gather

Animal ID:           6 month old, dark bay/brown, colt

History:  The pilot reported this colt lied down twice while moving just ½

mile from the original location of the band of horses. The second time he

radioed to the trap for wranglers to come with a trailer and assist the

colt as he seemed unlikely to make it to the trap. I accompanied the

wranglers to the location. We arrived to the colt’s location about 10

minutes after the call from the pilot. On arrival he was found dead, lying

in left lateral recumbency, with no signs of struggle or agonal movements

apparent in the surrounding snow.

Examination: Alan Shepherd accompanied me during this necropsy examination.

The carcass was rolled onto the right side, no external abnormalities were

noted. Front right leg was lifted and reflected dorsally. On opening the

chest cavity negative pressure was apparent. There was no blood present in

the trachea. There was a large amount of free blood in the chest cavity.

The lungs were pink and airy with no abnormalities noted.

On examination in-situ a hole was apparent in the pulmonary artery at the

base. The left ventricle was thickened and larger than expected and the

atria were thin and without muscular tone. There was an area of thinning

and apparent aneurysm on the left atrium.

The abdominal cavity was examined with no abnormalities noted. Body

condition was moderately thin with only small amounts of subcutaneous and

abdominal fat noted.

 Conclusion/Differentials/Dx: Left side heart failure.

Death caused by acute pulmonary artery rupture attributable to a

pre-existing, probably congenital heart condition.

Gather related but attributable to a pre-existing condition

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, PhD

Veterinary Epidemiologist

Senior Staff Veterinarian

APHIS/BLM Wild Horse and Burro Partnership

 – – –

(Comments added by Tracie L. Thompson)

Basically, the foal died from Acute Pulmonary Aneurysm Secondary to Left Ventricular

Hypertrophy. This condition is genetic, is a pulmonary condition, and is a congenital

heart defect. So, based on this report’s information, the answers to the questions above…

Was this foal’s death a direct result of the gather? Yes, if this foal was not

being gathered, he would not have died at that time.

Could this foal’s death have been prevented? No, this foal’s death was imminent.

It is likely that the foal was in pain daily until his death, suffering from symptoms

such as shortness of breath, fatigue, nutritional deficiencies, just to name a few. It

is highly unusual for foals with this condition to live past the age of 6 months age and

in some cases even 1 month of age without medical and/or surgical intervention.

What were the actual circumstances? The only information that is available at this

time as to the actual circumstances of this foal’s death from an official accounting is

the necropsy report above. Other reports have not become available at the time of this

writing. As mentioned above, there are several second and third party reports available

on the internet.

 The BLM states that it is common to have injury, illness and sometimes death during gather

operations. They state however, the rate is very low.. According to some sources, the rate

is as low as 1%. Other sources place the rate much higher.

 There is also protocol for the pilot to follow should he see a horse not able to keep up

with the movement of the herd. If the pilot observes such a situation, he is to radio the

gather officials to request assistance for the horse, and he is to reduce his pursuit of

the horse and/or cease his pursuit of the horse. This is to ensure that the horse is not

pushed beyond his physical limitations. According to the necropsy report above and sources

within the BLM, this was the case during the development of this situation.

 – – –

 We asked Corrine Davis, DVM, PHD, a retired university veterinary pathologist, wild horse

advocate and an adopter of a several wild horses (and a burro) to review the necropsy

report.  Her comments are as follows.

 This exam as described could easily be carried out in the field. The chest being full

of blood and the finding of a ruptured pulmonary artery are consistent and could easily

explain acute death.  The exact nature of the heart defect was not described. The

ventricular hyperplasia and dilated atria could have been secondary to a primary heart

defect.  The usual congenital defects are either septal defects (holes), malpositioning

of great vessels, or failure of fetal structures to close. I saw no estimate of weight of

the animal.  I think the conclusions are valid and that the cause of death was due to

rupture of an aneurysm in a great vessel.

 Cardiac defects are relatively common congenital defects in many species including man.

 – – –

 (Additional information provided by Tracie L. Thompson)

 The following are links to educational sites if you would like to learn more about this condition:

 The Merck Vet Manual, Heart Failure

 Answers to Equine Cardiology Practice Problems: LAMS 5313 Dr. Barton, Case Studies

 UC Davis, Center for Equine Health, The Equine Heart

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