Aug 26, 2019 | Breeding, Microchips
How, you ask, are starvation, breeding, and microchips related? What weird cat logic is this? Read on and find out. I’m dropping some serious cat wisdom this week.
Recently Dr. Vurgason and Dr. Lacher had the daunting task of working with a group of 18 incredibly thin horses. Like, body condition score 1 out of 9 for a majority of these horses. Dr. Vurgason worked on one who was in such bad shape he was down for 24 hours because he didn’t have the muscle mass or energy reserves to stand. That’s bad! I hope to only be able to imagine how these horses felt. I’m the one starting to insist on dinner at 4:30 pm when it is never served before 5:30 pm.
There were abrasions on hips because the skin couldn’t take the pressure of the bony points with absolutely no covering. Remember all that rain recently? Many of these horses have just about no hair thanks to horrible cases of rain rot. When I say this was a sad bunch of horses, I really, really mean it. Luckily they found their way to a great rescue (and, trust me, they aren’t all great). If these horses can handle the introduction of food over the next week or so, they’ll be ok.
The rescue that has this herd pulls a lot of horses from very low level auctions. The kill pen kind of auctions. I asked what breeds they see most often. My guess was going to be thoroughbreds. Yvonne told me my fine feline instincts were wrong. At first I was horrified to be wrong, but then I listened, and learned. Most are Quarter Horses, followed by Standardbreds, and draft breeds.
Why is it Quarter Horses? Because of the huge breeding operations that exist with little outlet for the ones that “don’t cut it.” Literally don’t cut it, since many of these are breeding for horses that work cows. I beg of you guys out there looking at pretty stallion pictures right now, anxiously awaiting the upcoming breeding season. THINK about whether this is something you really want and need to do. Could you find the horse you’re looking for without having to breed? Is your mare so special that it has to be her?
I don’t mean to take away from your horse, I mean to have you think about breeding. There are tons of great horses in backyards starving, and in kill pen auctions. What would it mean to a horse to never have to end up there? How great would it be to check out the foals, weanlings, yearlings, or even two year olds at a great breeding program, and pick out the one that was the color and sex you wanted? Let me tell you, that never happens when you breed your own. Just ask Dr. Lacher, who prefers geldings, and got 4 fillies and 1 sweet but not-talented gelding.
How the heck do microchips end up in this story? Simple. At one time, these horses were likely bred or owned by someone who hoped for the best for them. That’s not how their lives ended up. If those owners had microchipped these horses, they would at least have a way to be contacted. We talk about microchips most frequently when it comes to natural disasters, or downed fence lines, but what if you got a call about a horse you sold 10 years ago? I’m guessing most of you would want to know that horse would have a soft place to land. So microchip your horses. It can do way more than bring them back if they’re wandering lost after a hurricane.
The unwanted horse is an incredibly complicated problem. They are big, expensive animals. If each and every person in the horse industry took a moment to be sure they were helping, and not contributing to the issue, we could reduce the suffering of horses. I have faith in you humans, even if I don’t usually come across that way.
Now be a good human and subscribe to my weekly drop of cat wisdom.
Until next week,
P.S. I know I usually remind you about the podcast that the humans do, which is pretty popular. You should definitely check that out. However, this week is a special announcement! The humans, or Dr. Lacher’s husband, in particular, have published a book called Adventures of the Horse Doctor’s Husband. It’s pretty good, and I’m not just saying that because I have a cameo appearance in it. Speaking of rescuing horses in bad situations, remember Highway, the horse that fell out of the moving trailer last winter? You’ll recognize him on the cover, and if you buy the book, you’ll be making a contribution to him. It’s a win-win for everyone. Just click on the banner below to learn more about the book.
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!
Mar 20, 2018 | Microchips
This morning sucked. That’s the only way to put it. Around 6:30 am I was rousted from a sound sleep by a flash of light, followed by an earth-shaking boom. Then the power went out. When the power goes out around here, it’s followed by a whole lot of things beeping, loudly and insistently rather like those puppies you humans think are cute. All this beeping was followed by the sharp rattle of hail against the windows, the roar of wind, and the splatter of rain. I’m not going to lie: Teannie and I were hunkered down together under a desk. Once my minions arrived, I heard the world outside was even worse. Trees were down everywhere, and power was out. There was even discussion of a tornado.
Out of nowhere
Sure, we had a bit of a heads up from the weather folks that a line of thunderstorms was going to come through, but, heck, we live in Florida. That’s every day during the summer. I know Dr. Lacher had at least two trees down near fences and spent 30 minutes chainsawing her way out of the driveway. Luckily, all her outside fencelines were intact, but what if they hadn’t been?
With hurricanes we have agonizing days of watching it track towards us. Will it hit? Will it veer away? You have time to write your name on your horse’s side, braid ID tags into manes and tails, put leather halters on, and have a plan. I don’t know about you, but I was snoozing at 6:29 am, not figuring out how to save my butt if I got lost.
If only there was a way
To permanently identify a horse, that didn’t wash off, was always with them, and never needed to be charged or have its batteries changed. Ah but there is: the microchip. And yes, you’ve heard this from me before. That’s because microchips are a really good idea. Every horse, dog, cat, and family members you don’t want to lose should be microchipped, in my not-so-humble opinion.
Microchips are there 24/7/365. If there’s a sudden storm, the fence goes down, or someone leaves a gate open accidentally, the microchip is there ready to let law enforcement or veterinarians know who this horse is and how to contact you.
Is it difficult to microchip a horse?
Putting in a microchip is super easy. If you don’t believe me, watch this video. My Docs scrub a spot, put a dollop of novocaine under the skin, and inject the microchip. The hardest part is filling out the paperwork. Even that’s not super-difficult. Pro tip from the cat: there are slots for four phone numbers. Pick one that belongs to someone who lives far away from you. This way if you get hit by a natural disaster, there’s still a working phone number rescuers can reach. For example, if you live in Newberry (like me), pick your friend in Atlanta. Both of those areas are unlikely to be hit by hurricanes at the same time.
Now you know how easy it is to keep your horse identifiable all the time. Next step is to call 352-472-1620, email, or live chat from the website with my minions to set up an appointment. Oh and be a good human: scroll down a little farther and subscribe to my blog!
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Office Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!
Jun 26, 2017 | Disaster Preparedness, Hurricanes, Microchips, Uncategorized
I realize I may sound like a broken record this time of year, but sometimes you humans don’t listen so well. Cats listen to everything. We might ignore you, but we do hear you. ‘Tis the season for me to chat with you about hurricane preparedness.
The Bare Necessities
As I sit here watching it torrentially rain, I remember back to last year when Hermine made the power go out for three days. I learned humans require a substance called coffee, which requires electricity, and horses drink A LOT of water, which requires a pump, which requires electricity! Electricity has a nasty tendency to go away during hurricanes.
Take a look around your farm and decide who needs what to tough it out for 5-7 days. For the animals, that is feed, hay, and water. For the humans, that’s coffee, water, and food that doesn’t need refrigeration. Can you provide these things without electricity?
Anticipate 15 gallons of water per horse per day, along with 1 gallon per human per day, and another ¾ per dog and cat per day. This water can be stored in large trash cans (clean ones, obviously!), or those big water troughs. Water can be purified with 6 drops of bleach per gallon if necessary. Be sure any feed and hay you’ve stocked up on is way, way above what you could possibly in your wildest dreams consider a high water level. Ask the nice people in St. Augustine how high water can get without the hurricane even making landfall!
Now is the time to examine your fences, property, and barn for anything that can become debris during hurricanes. High winds, during even afternoon thunderstorms, can pick up old boards, sheets of roofing tin, or even fencing wire and send it flying around your farm. Horses seem to have a special magnetism for injuries from these scenarios. Keeping these “junk piles” every human seems to have securely covered or tied down is key to an injury-free hurricane experience.
Eyeball your farm for other hazards that may occur. A biggie is downed power lines. Figure out where you can safely put your animals so that even if lines come down, they won’t be able to go near them. Approach deep water areas the same way.
Speaking of keeping your animals safe during storms, we recommend big stuff like horses and cows stay outside during bad storms if at all possible. This gives them the best opportunity to move away from flying debris, downed trees, and other fun hurricane happenings. We recommend small critters, like dogs and cats, stay inside to prevent them from doing the full-on freakout and running away.
Find your way home
Microchips. Best way for your horse, or dog, or cat, or grandparent (ok just kidding on that one, sort of) to find their way home is with a properly registered microchip. Microchips are easy to place, simple to register, and provide 24/7 lifetime identification for your horse.
For the humans though, have a family plan for how you will meet up if a storm prevents you from returning home. Pick a point person, whom everyone knows, that lives outside of the potential disaster area. Let’s be real here: for hurricanes, that means someone outside of Florida. This is a person any family member can contact to check-in. Having a far away point person can be a lifesaver (literally) in these situations.
There are tons of resources out there about hurricane preparedness and farms. Go find them, read them, and form a plan. Don’t be the cat left out in the rain: Be prepared for hurricane season!!
May 29, 2017 | Microchips
I like to wander sometimes. I once went to a new farm for Thanksgiving weekend. Another time, a client had a two-horse trailer, and four horses that needed Coggins tests. I decided to go home with them after the first round, check out their farm, and then return to the Clinic with them. That’s not quite how the humans saw my adventure, but that’s what I was up to. Why do I bring up my little reconnaissance missions? Microchips. That’s why. I’m chipped, Teannie is chipped, and all my minions have their horses chipped. Read on and I will let you know why every animal should be chipped.
June 1st through November there’s this great add-on season in Florida. It’s called Hurricane Season. I love watching the humans compare weather apps, Florida Storms Twitter feed, and stalk Jim Cantore like he’s the latest, greatest teenage boy band member.
You humans do this so you can be prepared for the pandemonium and chaos caused by hurricanes. They take down trees, annihilate power lines, and take down fences. All this leads to fantastic opportunities for your horses (and cats, and dogs) to explore the neighborhood without proper adult supervision. Microchips ensure the nice people who find your horse (or dog, or cat) can easily return them to you! Microchips are the reason nearly all horses were successfully reunited with their owners after Hurricane Katrina.
Admittedly, I’m not one for rules. They say ‘don’t get on the keyboard’, I say ‘watch how many keys I can press in one pass’. However, I can get behind the microchip rules several organizations are putting in place. The Jockey Club began requiring microchips for Thoroughbreds for 2017. No more trying to figure out if that’s a F or an A or a B or an E on that lip tattoo!
US Equestrian has also put in a rule that all horses showing in USHJA divisions are microchipped beginning December 2017. This should reduce the, umm, inappropriate identity changes some horses get so they can stay in certain divisions.
The number one thing microchips provide is a permanent, unalterable way to identify a horse (or cat, or dog). Now, you may have read stories on the internet about how someone changed a microchip number, or removed one from a horse. Take it from this cat: not everything you read on the internet is true! I know it’s hard to believe, but the 52 thoroughbreds all have homes, and microchips can’t be removed or altered.
Hurricane season is coming, and so is December 2017. No matter your reason, your horse should be microchipped. What if the unimaginable happened, and it was a picture of your horses walking down the side of the highway that was making the rounds on Facebook? I know it would be worth $60 to you for the sheriff’s department to be able to find out who they belong to and get them home safely. Not everyone is a celebrity cat like me, after all.