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Saving Timmy: Community rallies to rescue drowning horse

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Photo courtesy the Delta Community Animal Shelter

It’s always nice to get outside, get some exercise and partake in some harmless horseplay. But tragedy nearly struck two weeks ago (Oct. 17), when Timmy, a beautiful chestnut coloured horse in East Ladner, fell into a waterlogged ditch and had to be rescued.

Timmy was playing in a field at 104th Street and 59th Avenue, just north of the East Delta Community Hall, when he got trapped in a ditch and struggled to keep his head above the water.

The owner, seeing her beloved horse struggling for his life, tried in vain to pull him from the ditch. When she couldn’t, she desperately made the call to emergency services, and Delta Police constables Kelly Seib and Kathy Bauman were first on the scene.

The good news was that the horse’s head was sticking out above the water, but unfortunately he had fallen onto his side and wasn’t in a position to right himself.

“I knew straight away that there was no way to get that horse out of its position without having it strapped and pulled out,” says Kelly, who put out the call for more people to come and help. “At the end of the day, Kathy and I both agreed there was no way we were going to stand by and allow this horse to die on our watch.”

The response was swift. Members from the Delta Fire Department, municipal engineering department, the Delta Community Animal Shelter and Roadway Towing in Surrey all attended the call to try and get Timmy freed.

“I saw an owner who was fearful and upset for all the right and understandable reasons. And for me looking at her, I knew this was her ‘fur baby’ and her best friend. So the end goal was to do everything we can.”

The only way to get Timmy out was to get into the water with the horse, wrap him in straps, and then have the tow truck and first responders pull him out. Kelly says when the time came to get into the frigid water, she looked at Kathy quickly and said, “are you good?” She nodded, and they plunged in.

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The officers are adamant that anybody would have done the same thing in their shoes and that saving the horse wouldn’t have been possible without the help of everybody involved.

“Everybody there was working, whether it was the horse owner who I had comforting Timmy,” says Kelly. “Because I knew as a pet owner myself you want to be right at the head to comfort the horse as much as you can. And the firemen were assisting us with ladders and digging out the weeds. So it took a huge team effort.”

The first responders used the same techniques to keep the horse calm as they would any human, by speaking calmly and preventing him from panicking and potentially making his situation more precarious. Even though they couldn’t communicate with the horse, Kelly is certain Timmy knew they were there to help him.

“Animals understand body language and it’s my belief they do understand if there’s fear. So everybody surrounding the horse, including Kathy and I and the owner, were talking to the horse.”

When Timmy was finally pulled free and managed to stand on his own four feet (hooves) again, cheers and hugs were shared all around. Fortunately, Timmy had no broken bones or lasting injuries and Kelly says everybody was glad for the happy ending.

“We do work in a unique community where there is farming and that is part of what one should expect as a police officer,” says Kelly. “Timmy’s a life and we did what we had to do to help him. And luckily everything worked out.”

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