BUNNELL, Fla.- A horse that had fell into a septic tank hole was freed by a team of animal rescue workers Tuesday afternoon.
The horse was trapped for about three-and-a-half hours, said Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito. Mercy, a 24-year-old quarter horse, fell through a fiberglass cover over the underground septic tank on property on Clove Avenue just before 11:30 a.m.
Officials said they believe Mercy weighs around 1,200 pounds and was unable to escape the tank once she fell in. Her owners discovered her and called 9-1-1, but Petito believes Mercy had been stuck for about 30 minutes before her owner found her.
Veterinarians and rescue crews raced to get Mercy free as she ran the risk of being paralyzed from lying on her side for too long. Just before 3 p.m. crews were able to pull her from the water-filled tank. Officials say she appeared to be in stable condition at that point.
A large animal rescue unit from St. Johns County led the rescue effort to save the nearly submerged horse. Flagler County Fire Rescue, Flagler County Public Works, City of Palm Coast units and Flagler County deputies also assisted in saving Mercy.
A disaster response team from the University of Florida’s college of veterinary medicine aslo responded from Gainesville about 2:30 p.m. The team used specialized equipment and conversed with the St. Johns rescue unit commander before crew freed the animal within 15 minutes.
Animal doctors from the Shelton Veterinary Clinic in Bunnell also aided in the rescue. THey injected Mercy with pain relievers and muscle relaxers to calm her as emergency crews worked to pull her out.
A lead veterinarian at the clinic, Jennifer Lockwood, reported that Mercy sustained minor cuts and scrapes on her left shoulder and knee from the fall. She prescribed pain medications and antibiotics to help heal the wounds, but Mercy is expected to make a full recovery.
When Mercy was finally pulled free she laid on her side for several minutes. Once she stood up members of the exhausted rescue crew began to smile and laugh.