NEAR ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A cow named Maddie got stuck in the mud Monday, but the Emergency Equine Response Unit knew what to do and rescued her from her plight.
The name says it: Normally the equine unit rescues horses. But when the bovine got herself in trouble in a mixture of silt, water and mud -- a combination that ultimately acted like quicksand -- the equine unit pulled out their gear and got muddy themselves.
"We've seen livestock and unique exotic animals become family members that they want the same type of professional tactical response in an emergency situation," said Eric Thompson with the Emergency Equine Response Unit.
Maddie stepped in a drainage area to get a drink and sank.
"She was up to her chest in mud," he said. "Her feet were folded underneath her down in the mud. We were able to get in and runs some straps and use a bobcat, highlift as a lifting point to give her some footing and pull her chest out of the mud so she could get some firm ground and stand up on her own."
Maddie's young calf waited on the sidelines, anxious about what was happening to his mother. For that, the rescuers named him Zippy.
The Equine Response Unit responds to several types of situations involving horses and other livestock.
"We use firefighter search and rescue methods and apply it to animals to extricate them out of mud, overturned trailers, out of tough situations where special equipment and skills are needed, not only to protect safety of the rescuers but protect the safety of the animal," he said.
He says the lack of rain can cause dryness as was the case in Tuesday's situation.
"We're coming into drought conditions where ponds will start to recede and dry up and they'll form a crust over the top layer," he said.
That can pose a hazard when animals go for a drink.
"Then as the animals feel secure on that top layer they start to break through and get into a very sticky thick mud, that's hard, especially for older animals to get out of," he said.
Thompson said it doesn't matter if the owners are raising the animals to take to market or to have as pets. People can form the same bond as if the animal were a house pet.
Thompson says it's not surprising to him when he gets a frantic call.