GRAFTON (CBS) - These sleepy eyes belong to nine-year-old Cajun, a riding horse who watched as winds leveled his owners' home and the barn he shared with three other horses.
Cajun's owners let him loose moments before the tornado hit Brimfield. One horse was killed; Cajun's right hind leg was impaled by a stick.
"With the debris that was flying around it's a miracle anyone survived," says owner Steven Bush. Bush and co-owner Joann Kass lost everything, but their only concern was the hurt horse.
Joann says her first calls were to a vet and her sister. "They worked in the rain by the light of a tractor to open him up and get drains in him," she said.
WBZ-TV's Diana Perez reports.
It took hours but Cajun finally made it to Tufts Veterinary Hospital in North Grafton for surgery last Thursday.
For now he's on the equivalent of bed rest, stall rest. The veterinarians say there is still a risk for infection.
Steven says Cajun still has a long road ahead of him before he's fully recovered. "He's still traumatized," said Steven. "He used to come right up to us. When I got here today he went to the corner and stood there. I couldn't touch him, I couldn't pet him, and he wouldn't take a carrot.
Mass.Gov: Tornado Recovery
Cajun warmed up to his folks but he still seems shaken by what he saw, which is why Joann wants to bring him and her other horses back home.
"I think the sooner they're home and together, the sooner they'll recover, even mentally and emotionally," says Joann.
To do that, they need some help. Some costs of Cajun's care were waived but not all of them. The family is also hoping to build a temporary stable before he comes home in a week.
"Even if he is done and not ride-able, he's retiring. I'm not putting him down. He'll eat hay and oats for the rest of this life," says Steven…. a nice ride of his own for a change.
Carl Kirker-Head, associate professor of clinical sciences at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton said the surgery last week went well. Barring an infection, the horse is expected to fully recover.
Cajun, an American paint horse, was one of four horses hurt by a tornado that struck Hill Side Farm in Brimfield last Wednesday. One died, and two others suffered minor injuries.
Tufts Veterinary Hospital says non tax-deductable donations may be made to Joann Kass and Steven Bush, care of Karen Walker, 351 Bernard Whitney Road, New Braintree, MA 01531 or directly to Cajun's care by calling the Hospital for Large Animals front desk at (508) 839-7926.
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