Horse rescued from swamp
Though it's hard to put a number on how many lives were possibly saved on many emergency calls last weekend by the Detroit Lakes Fire Department and Becker County Sheriff's Office, there is one they can be certain of.
A 34 year-old horse was stuck in a swamp south of Detroit Lakes Sunday afternoon, and the combined efforts of both departments pulled the exhausted horse out safely.
The horse is doing well as of Friday morning, according to Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon.
At about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3, Gordon received a call that a horse was stuck in a swamp on 280th Avenue.
The daughter of the horse's owner, Megan Knopf, had unsuccessfully tried to get the horse out of the swamp for several hours before calling for emergency help.
"Luckily, we were able to drive through this field and we were able to get close enough with our rescue truck and the winch to be able to hook it up and start pulling," said Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Dave Baer. "
But it took us a good hour and 15 minutes to get it to land."
Baer said the horse was completely exhausted and wasn't moving, and the rescue workers had to essentially drag the animal out of the swamp.
"It was just lying in there on its side, basically," he said.
"My concern at that time, was (the horse) to the point where it was actually going to mentally give up itself? So we just started using some techniques," Gordon said.
Gordon said they tried to keep the horse's stress down and covered its eyes during most of the rescue. The firefighters placed a thick rescue strap around the horse's front quarters and started slowly pulling.
"It just took us a while to get it. Even when we got it somewhat upright, it was pretty much exhausted," Baer said.
"She was to the point of complete exhaustion, and we knew we had to do it all for her," Gordon said. "Everything was slow and cautious, with the horse's mental state in mind."
Baer gave Gordon a lot of credit for his knowledge of horses in getting the animal out safely.
"Thank God Tim knows a lot about horses," Baer said.
Being a horse owner, Gordon said the Sheriff's Office dispatcher called him after receiving the call from the Knopfs.
"I understand animals," Gordon said. "I've had them all my life. I gave them real quick instructions what to do on the phone and asked dispatch to page Rescue One."
Knowing what he was dealing with, Gordon said he knew the fire department had the necessary equipment to get the horse out of the swamp.
"When a horse lays down like that in a quagmire and gives up, it goes back to the herd instinct versus the prey instinct," Gordon said. "The fight was out of it and it got to the point mentally that it was just going to give up."
Several of the rescue workers who were aiding in the swamp rescue are still dealing with bug bites and rashes, but it's nothing another scrubbing can't take care of, he said.
"It was hot. It was miserable and we were in a swamp with lots of bugs. So we all came out bug-bit, but we stayed with it through the end," Gordon said. "We just ended up getting mucky up to our waists."
It is speculated that the horse got spooked by fireworks and ran into the swamp.
Owner Diane Knopf, who was on vacation when this happened, said her horse is old and doesn't see well, but is in good shape.
"I think it's wonderful what they did. I'm really glad what they did. I'm really glad," she said.
Baer said Megan Knopf was ecstatic that the horse was saved, and brought a card and some baked goods to the fire hall Wednesday evening.
"It's doing well and eating and all that good stuff," Baer said.