Exclusive “Pile of Ponies”
Barrel racer Carrie Moore says she’s been to every veterinary clinic surrounding the Oklahoma tornado’s strike zone looking for her horses. The three seemingly disappeared after Wallace Horse Park took a direct hit. “You don’t expect this to happen.”
The United States Department of Agriculture is working to provide horse owners with information regarding their missing horses. For many, attention turns to the “pile of ponies” in town, the casualties no one could protect from the unpredictable.
Prior to disposal, the horses are cataloged by the USDA, according to Kirby Smith, Public Information Manager, for ODAFF. Identifiable marks are photographed including brands, tattoos, and head-shots. Smith says about half of the estimated 200 horses have been documented and removed from the area.
She says the goal is to streamline the process, while following state and federal guidelines for carcass disposal, to protect the area’s natural resources and ensure human safety. Several agencies are paying for the costs associated with the transport and disposal of the horses’ bodies.
When the tornado struck Monday, the town of Moore was almost completely reduced to rubble. The horses didn’t fare much better. Delicate horse flesh torn like paper by flying pieces of shrapnel caused lacerations. After first responders ran out of euthanasia solution from putting down “too many to count,” sheriff deputies stepped in with bullets, to end the suffering of the gravely injured.
Mending more than wounds
“The survivors were so traumatized, from one day to the next their faces changed,” says Alice Holmes. She manages Interstate Equine Services which is treating eight horses that lived through the catastrophic event. Luckily, their owners have been located.
Many local veterinarians are mending more than the physical wounds of their patients. Dr. Michael Wiley’s Equi-Center Veterinary Hospital is caring for 25 equine patients from the storm. His wife, Ann says all of the horses’ owners have been found, allowing them peace of mind as they work through the disaster. “They know the horses are in good hands, and they can feel comfortable proceeding on with the other things they need to take care of”.
Some horses remain at local clinics, waiting for their owners to come forward, which may take time. “The magnitude of this tornado was horrific, so many of their owners lost everything,” says Holmes.
Moore says she contacted Equine Medical Associates, Inc. of Oklahoma about a palomino they call “Legs”. She says the mare, named Dapples, whose photo is making the rounds online is owned by an older man from her barn. It is unknown if he is aware she survived. Of the 18 horses that lived at Wallace Horse Park, Dapples is the only known survivor.
Moore says once she gets her answers, she’ll take a break. She lost all of her tack, horse trailer, and her horses. “I know I’m one of the lucky ones though. I have my family and my house,” she said crying.
If you are looking for answers regarding your horse or small animal, please call the emergency response hotline at 405-837-7240.
This is the first time this number is being released. When you call, please give a description of your missing horse or pet.