Veterinarians and Students Care for Sheep Injured in Barn Fire
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jan Williams, College of Veterinary Medicine, 612-624-6228
U of M College of Veterinary Medicine Veterinarians and Students Care for Sheep
Injured in Barn Fire
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (Feb. 2, 2005) - Within two hours of learning about
the fire at Shepherd's Way Farms in Nerstrand, Minn., early Monday, Jan.
24, a team of veterinarians and students from the University of Minnesota College
of Veterinary Medicine was at the farm helping treat the critically injured
"Their first task was to examine the approximately 300 survivors to decide
could be treated," said Jen Johnson, D.V.M., who led the team. At mid-day,
the group was joined by an additional two veterinarians and three students from
the college. The group was back at the farm on Tuesday, applying antibiotic ointments
to the eyes and skin of the ewes and using anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the
lung damage caused by smoke inhalation. Veterinarians cautioned that smoke inhalation
often causes long-term damage to animals' respiratory systems, so the survivors
aren't out of the woods yet.
Nevertheless, these animals were the lucky ones. Hundreds of sheep and lambs
were killed in the blaze. While the students found the loss of life to be tragic,
they also realized that it was a tremendous learning experience.
"Veterinary medicine is a helping profession," said Susan McClanahan,
D.V.M., an assistant clinical professor who specializes in small ruminant and
health. "We don't go out there to be heroes. Dealing with disasters
like this is part of our job as veterinarians. We want to be there to help at
any moment, and it's also valuable training for our students."
In addition to Johnson and McClanahan, the other U of M veterinarians who were
involved in treating the sheep were Luanne Hunt, D.V.M., internal medicine resident,
and Jaime Zarda, D.V.M., large animal intern.
The students who helped treat the sheep were members of the class of 2005 who
were on two-week small ruminant and large animal medicine rotations at the
college. They included Robyn Ball, Duluth, Minn.; Andrea DiBartolo, a St. George's
University student from Chicago, Ill.; Jessica Dinham, Alexandria, Minn.; Shayna
Gotvaslee, Buffalo, Minn.; Rachel Hedlin, Farwell, Minn.; Kathy Maudal, Battle
Lake, Minn.; Lindsay Raygor, Rochester, Minn., and Siddharth Ranade, a Ross
University student from India who was on clinical rotation at the college.
Shepherd's Way Farm is the largest farm in North America that makes cheese
from the milk of its sheep, and is well known in the nation's small sheep
cheese industry. While no dollar value has been put on the loss, farm owner
Steve Read initially estimated that 550 sheep were killed. At a replacement
about $350 each, the financial impact from the loss of the sheep alone would
come to $192,500.
State and county investigators have determined that the fire was arson. Anyone
with information about the fire is asked to call the Minnesota Arson Hot Line
at 1-800-723-2020. A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered.
A fund for Shepherd's Way Farm has also been established. Donations may
be sent to SWF Fire Relief, First National Bank of Northfield, 329 Division Street,
Northfield, MN 55057. The College of Veterinary Medicine is also accepting donations
to help with the animals' treatment costs. Tribute fund donations may
be sent to College of Veterinary Medicine, 1365 Gortner Ave., Attn: Sue Greeder,
St. Paul, MN 55108.
The College of Veterinary Medicine improves the health and well-being of
animals and people by providing high-quality veterinary training, conducting
research, and delivering innovative veterinary services.