Animals Get Help That Would Not Have Otherwise
It was our second day in Solok, and our plans were to continue assessing damage done to surrounding areas: Tanah Datar, Padang Panjang and Bukittinggi. Reports from humanitarian relief organizations had led us to believe more severe damage was done to villages 1 – 2 hours outside Solok. However, several people in Solok had already requested our assistance in treating horses that had either been trapped or were wounded in falling debris and were suffering from trauma and/or open wounds. We agreed to assist the Dept. of Agriculture veterinarians with these cases before leaving the area.
Our motorbike team of veterinarians and animal rescuers set off immediately, whizzing through barely one-lane-r roads, around fish ponds, through the rice fields, sweeping across dirt paths, and finally arriving at the local farms that had asked for help. There’s no doubt we looked like a team with a mission. Everyone we passed in the villages would stop what they were doing to watch us pass and fade into the distance. I would have loved to be able to stop at each home we passed to explain what we were doing.
The only thing that I really don’t like about motorbikes in Indonesia is how loud the mufflers are. You would think we were a small pack of jet fighters passing by. For the most part we were traveling through beautiful scenery in the middle of nowhere, but there was never a chance to hear what nature would sound like in these distant areas because the motor bikes were so deafening! Other than that, this was undoubtedly the most effective way for us to be getting around and the rush of fresh air is the best cure from “Jakarta sinus headache”.
This particular morning we were able to visit three farms that had injured horses. One farmer told us that his horse was out in the field wearing a rotary hoe when the earthquake struck. The strength of the earthquake actually broke the rotary hoe right off the back of the horse! He pointed to it with disappointment, now collecting dust in his shack, but was more concerned with the health of his horse; his friend and his livelihood.
The horse seemed stressed, but there was no obvious physical damage that we could see. Ideally it would be a good idea to slowly reintroduce the rotary hoe once repaired, but given we had other places to visit and quite possibly many more animals to treat, we had to rely on the judgment of the farmer and hope he would consider the fear his horse may now have of the hoe that snapped off it’s hip.
In between the farms we visited we were able to stop here and there to check in with people who appeared to have large populations of dogs. We wanted to make sure all were ok. Every dog in these villages is fearful of incoming humans, especially a pack of humans on loud motorbikes, so it took time for us to be able to examine all. For the most part it appeared to us dogs were able to quickly bounce back from the earthquake damage and not suffer as much stress as the livestock we were seeing.
As late afternoon approached, we still had not made it to the surrounding villages, but were able to accomplish quite a lot. One of the drivers we were with knew of a chicken farm way up in the hills that had a building collapse so we decided this visit would be our last mission of the day. Would you believe that on the day the earthquake hit there was not a single chicken in the building that collapsed? (See photo) They were all in the building right next to it….only by chance!
However, the earthquake did affect the egg laying behavior of the chickens, because none of them have been able to lay for the past 3 days. This will be something our team will continue to investigate and hopefully will be able to assist with, because these farmers rely on their chickens to lay eggs so that they can have an income.
From here we headed back to our rooms in Solok to discuss the next days agenda, and to log everything we had done and all the places we had seen this day (all the villages look the same especially when they all have horses, so it’s a bit difficult keeping it all straight!). We decided the assessment would continue in to the surrounding villages the next day, hopefully making it all the way up to Bukittinggi.
What we didn’t know was that the next day, Dr. Haris from C.A.R.E would be pulling out the placenta from a mother cow and treating a new born calf…..