Lancashire vet to receive award honouring her work to rescue horse just hours from death

Lancashire vet to receive award honouring her work to rescue horse just hours from death

Lancashire vet to receive award honouring her work to rescue horse just hours from death

A vet from Lancashire is to receive a special award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the House of Lords, recognising her heroic rescue of a starving horse and her successful campaign to rescue other suffering horses.

Vikki Fowler (26) from Darwen, was a newly-qualified equine vet when she was called to a farm in Bolton to help a distressed and pitifully thin shire horse struggling in a ditch at the bottom of a steep, muddy bank. The horse had fallen down the bank after pushing through a fence in search of food.

When Vikki arrived, she found the three-year-old bay mare trapped in barbed wire with her head lying in a water-filled gully, caked in filth, struggling to breathe and so weak she could barely lift her nostrils out of the water.

The mare was freed with wire cutters and lifted to safety in a delicate rescue operation which involved wrapping her in a sling and heaving her up the bank using a mechanical digger, with the aid of local equestrian staff. Initially Vikki thought the exhausted mare’s condition was so severe that she would have to be put down, but she wanted to give her another chance at life.

Knowing the horse would not last another night outdoors and seeing no change in the conditions where she was being kept a few hours later, she paid the owner £1,500 to buy the horse which she called Hope and nursed her through the night.

She said: “I just had some connection with her. She has the softest eyes and when I looked at her I could just see that she didn’t want to die. My grandma told me she had nominated me for the IFAW award, but I was shocked to hear I had won because as far as I’m concerned I was only doing my job and I hope a lot of other vets would do what I did.”

After rescuing Hope, Vikki launched a Facebook campaign to highlight the plight of 27 other neglected shire horses in a campaign which attracted worldwide attention and resulted in food, shelter, veterinary care and eventually new homes being secured for all the horses.

After Vikki’s dedicated care, Hope made a remarkable recovery and recently won a championship award at a horse show. Vikki has also rescued another horse from the same site and is in the process of buying land for these and her two other horses.

Robbie Marsland, UK Director of IFAW, said: “Vikki is a remarkable example of a vet willing to go that extra mile to help a suffering animal and Hope’s recovery is testament to that. She is a very worthy winner of IFAW’s Vet of the Year award.”

Vikki will receive her award at IFAW’s prestigious Animal Action Awards event, hosted by Baroness Gale and presented by Queen legend Brian May, at the House of Lords on October 23.