Horses on road to recovery after alleged cougar attack
After suffering injuries on June 3 that their owners believe were related to a cougar attack, two horses have returned to Parrett Mountain from boarding with a veterinarian. The outlook for both horses is uncertain as they recover from their significant injuries, but owner Katie Ott said she's happy to have Chips — a mare — and her gelding, Arthur, home.
"They're at the barn down the road from us because we're not quite ready to bring horses home yet," Ott said. "We've still got a couple hunters working on the cougar situation at the house, but they haven't seen anything yet."
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated the incident and determined the injuries were not caused by a cougar attack, but provided no alternate theory as to how the horses might have been mauled. The Otts and their vet disagreed with the state's assessment and have since discovered a bone chip in Arthur's leg wound that is consistent with a bite from a large predator.
"We've had a lot of private experts and friends who are hunters helping us try to track it," Ott said. "We've had a lot of people in the community who have seen a cougar up in our area and one gentleman said he's seen one near his home every month for the last two years. We asked the state over and over what it was if it wasn't a cougar, and they couldn't tell us."
Although they haven't seen the cougar on cameras they've set up, the Otts are still keeping an eye out and are considering boarding other horses to test if the cougar comes back. Chips and Arthur's status is touch and go at this point, with both unlikely to be sound enough to be ridden again. The Otts raise show horses and Arthur was planned to join those ranks.
"Both of them still have a lot of bandages and need a lot of care, so it was easier to have them at the barn down the road," Ott said. "Arthur is doing pretty good; he still has the leg wound and we don't know if he's going to be sound yet. Outlook-wise, we're pretty sure he'll make it through this fine. Chips, the mare, has been having complications with her front knees, so we've thought about possibly putting her down if we can't make her more comfortable with knee injections and other treatment.
"Her knees were pretty damaged that night and at this point we can't get her sound yet even with the extra medication she's on. We're looking at knee injections to try and get her comfortable, and we plan on doing X-rays at the next vet visit to try and determine what things are looking like."
The emotions of this process have been a roller coaster, Ott said. When the status of both horses is uncertain, it requires day-to-day supervision to see how the animals are faring. Ott has provided updates for friends, family and neighbors on Facebook, and the GoFundMe she set up when the attack occurred has played a key role in paying for the expensive vet visits. She said Chips and Arthur would not be here today were it not for the excellent work of their vet and support of the community.
"It was overwhelming when they came home," she said. "Chips came home first, and we were happy to get her out of there. Arthur had a couple setbacks but came home a week later, and reuniting the two of them was a great moment. They were quite happy to see each other. The tough part has been seeing them improve one day and take a step back the next. It's been pretty up and down."
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