Horse recovering after being rescued from septic tank

24-year-old horse was stuck in Flagler County septic tank for 4 hours


FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – A 24-year-old horse continues to recover after she was rescued from a septic tank in Flagler County Tuesday afternoon.

The brown mare named Mercy suffered scrapes and bruises after spending four hours in a septic tank at her Bunnell home, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office said.

“She’s an old horse but she’s eating really good and walking around good,” said Deputy Steve Williams on Thursday. “She had an antibacterial bath today to help make sure she doesn’t get any infections.”

One of her back legs remains swollen, Williams said, but it’s a good sign that she’s walking around on it.

Multiple agencies and teams responded to Clove Avenue in Bunnell, including St. Johns County Fire Rescue Special Operations, Flagler County Fire Rescue, Flagler County Sheriff's Office and University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

IMAGES: Horse rescued from septic tank

The horse wandered into her owners' yard around 11 a.m. and fell into the tank, which was filled with sludge.

Rescuers had to cut off an additional portion of the tank covering to reach Mercy, who is estimated to weigh between 1,100 and 1,200 pounds.

"We tend to get them out of sinkholes, out of mud, everything else but a septic tank. We've gotten dogs, horses, cows," said John Haven, executive director of UF's College of Veterinary Medicine.

The horse was sedated and safely removed from the tank around 3:15 p.m.

VIDEO: Horse pulled from septic tank

Throughout the ordeal, Flagler County firefighter Brady Barry, who is a horse owner himself, stayed with Mercy, stroking her and protecting her ears as workers tried to free her.

A veterinary team evaluated Mercy and determined her injuries were minor.

"Upon being rescued and scrubbed, Deputy Steve Williams and firefighter Barry carefully helped her stand up and she quietly munched grass as her owners expressed gratitude to the rescuers," said the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Haven said the UF team will respond to rescue situations within about two hours of Gainesville and will travel into southern Georgia.

He said the state has purchased equipment and stationed it around the state of Florida to help with animal rescues.

"We're not just trained in doing animal technical rescue. Myself and my partner that came, we're trained in human technical rescue, confined space, water," said Haven. "We've got a lot of different skills we bring together to solve animal rescue situations."

The same equipment used to rescue the horse in Flagler County was used to transport a tiger from St. Augustine to Gainesville earlier Tuesday.

St. Johns County Fire Rescue Special Operations was contacted by the St. Augustine Wild Reserve to assist in transporting its 700-pound tiger, named Toruk, for medical treatment at UF's College of Veterinary Medicine.

Toruk was successfully transported and will undergo treatment for back issues and routine medical checkups.

"SJCFR was grateful to be a part of the process and wishes Toruk a quick and speedy recovery," SJCFR posted on its Facebook page.