Baby bull survives August flooding thanks to LSU vet school

Baby bull survives August flooding thanks to LSU vet school

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many people and animals were affected by the historic August flooding in south Louisiana. Unfortunately, many animals were abandoned during the flooding and stood in high water for days before being rescued. Poncho was one such animal.

After Poncho stood in chest deep water for three to five days, he was rescued by the Babin family. No one knew how he had got there or where his owners were. Poncho was approximately one month old at the time.

He was brought to the Lamar Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales by his rescuers, but no one was sure if he'd make it through the night. His prognosis was uncertain.

"We didn't think he would last the night and we were concerned about what to do with him once he died. Was LSU or Lamar Dixon responsible for his body or were we? But he did make it to the next morning and showed enough progress for us to keep moving forward," said Kim Babin, one of his rescuers.

When Poncho first got to the Lamar Dixon, Matt Welborn, DVM, a professor of Food and Animal Health Maintenance at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, noticed Poncho was very dehydrated and immediately put a catheter in him to administer IV fluids and electrolytes. A few days later, another professor from LSU, Nancy Welborn, DVM accompanied her husband to offer her services to the displaced animals there. Nancy examined Poncho and noted he seemed depressed and would not eat a milk substitute, hay, or feed. He could not stand up and could hardly move.

Nancy also noted Poncho was squinting and discovered he had corneal ulcers in both eyes. Poncho was given antibiotics, pain medication, and a milk substitute from a feeding tube.

Unfortunately, Poncho seemed worse the following day. The skin on his legs began to slough off because he spent several days standing in water. Because the available care at Lamar Dixon was limited at the time, Poncho was transferred to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Poncho was experiencing dehydration, anorexia, a septic tendon sheath, depression, lethargy, corneal ulcers in both eyes, scrapes and abrasions all over his body, and progression of the severe skin damage on all four of his legs. The damage to Poncho's legs was severe.

To treat these injuries, Poncho received chlorhexidine baths to clean his open wounds to prevent him from getting staph or other bacterial infections, and to help increase blood flow to hasten the healing process. The baths also helped to debride the dying skin.

"The best part about working with Poncho was all the different clinical services that got involved. This experience reaffirms to me how our hospital is truly One Health. No one ever said, 'It's just a bull.' No one ever said, 'No.' Everyone just pitched in to do whatever it took to help him," said Clare Scully, DVM, assistant professor of Food Animal Health Maintenance at LSU.

After several weeks of care, Poncho was healing. "We had to evaluate his quality of life most importantly, but he showed us he wanted to live by responding to his treatments," said Chance Armstrong, DVM, assistant professor of Food Animal Maintenance at LSU.

Poncho received care from LSU for more than two months. On October 3, his rescuers came to pick him up and take him to his new home with them.

"We just saw and heard so many stories of loss and suffering. I don't think people realized how severely affected the food animal owners were. Some people lost every calf they had." said Nancy. "In the midst of all the loss, I just decided that Poncho had to survive. He never gave up. He was this one little piece of positivity in the midst of all this sadness. He made everyone who met him smile. He was my light during a very trying and difficult time."

Click here to learn more about the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine.

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