Spencer Horse Bright, Alert and Recovering

Shot horse remains in intensive care, but walking and beginning to eat
North Grafton, MA, January 22, 2010

Picaro, the horse from Spencer brought last week to the Cummings School's Hospital for Large Animals with gunshot wounds, is bright and alert today following a second surgery Wednesday in which veterinarians stabilized his jaw and removed fragments of his hyoid.

Using the Cummings School's new 16-slice computerized tomography scanner, equine and diagnostic imaging personnel were able to characterize with a high degree of accuracy the path of the bullets that wounded Picaro last Thursday. The 14-year-old horse was then transferred into surgery, whereupon Drs. Carl A. Kirker-Head and Jose M. Gacia-Lopez, assisted by resident Dr. Diego Quinteros, used Picaro's intact left jawbone as an anchor for stabilizing the badly damaged right jawbone. They also removed bits of his shattered hyoid apparatus.

A video of the CT scan can be found on YouTube and photos are available on a media page. Photographs of Picaro are available to the media by contacting Tom Keppeler at (508) 839-7910.

Today, Picaro was alert and beginning to eat his liquefied diet. He is receiving a great deal of attention and around-the-clock care at the Cummings School's Hospital for Large Animals from his team of caregivers, including his fourth-year veterinary student Jared Ravich, faculty veterinarians, interns, residents, and technicians. He took exercise, walking along the hospital's long central corridor, several times Friday, guided by a student and a resident.

He's in good spirits, and we hope he continues on this path of improvement, said Carl A. Kirker-Head, VetMB, MA, the associate professor of surgery in charge of the horse's care at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. He's increasingly comfortable, thanks to two successful surgeries thus far, as well as pain medication that he's tolerating well.

Despite the improving indicators of health, Picaro's progress remains day-to-day, and he faces a number of hurdles along road of recovery, Dr. Kirker-Head said today.

The horse, a gray Paso Fino stallion from Spencer, MA. Picaro was brought to the Hospital for Large Animals with bullet wounds last Thursday by Carol Gaucher of Spencer Animal Control and walked in under his own power. Cummings School officials are working with the horse's custodian, Kelley Small of West Boylston, MA, to make medical decisions and find a loving home for Picaro should he recover as anticipated.

Cummings School officials have received more than $1,000 in donations in Picaro's honor thus far. Bills for the horse's care have surpassed the $10,000 mark.

Members of the community interested in making donations to the Cumming School's Hospital for Large Animals in honor of Picaro can send checks made out to Trustees of Tufts College and mail them to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations. For links to online giving, please visit the Cummings School Giving Section.

About the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Founded in 1978 in North Grafton, MA, the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University is known for academic programs that impact society and the practice of veterinary medicine; five hospitals that treat over 30,000 cases each year; and groundbreaking research that benefits animal, public and environmental health.