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$3,000 pledged for large animal rescue equipment

After losing her beloved horse, Jumping Jack Flash, in a tragic accident last week when the 17-year-old Petron English Shire slipped into an icy creek, Shirley Archer is determined to save other animals from this terrible fate.

She has set out on a mission to raise funds to buy proper equipment needed to rescue large animals in these types of accidents.

“This is for the animals in the county. It’s necessary and will also keep the humans, the people who rescue them, a lot safer,” she said.

According to Archer, owner of Bright Meadows Winery in Nathalie, it will cost $6,000 to purchase the necessary lifesaving large animal rescue equipment. So far she has raised $500 along with a $3,000 pledge from an anonymous donor who has agreed to match the $3,000 Archer is working to raise.

Donors to date include Abbott’s Farm Supply, Triangle Florist and Southern Virginia Wine Trail.

Archer currently is talking with Denise Hudson of Hudson Heritage Farm to brainstorm fundraising ideas.

Aside from seeking individual and business contributions, Archer said all proceeds from the Derby Day Festival to be held at Bright Meadows on May 3 will go toward buying this equipment.

Needed are a lift, straps, hoses and a bi-pod.

Archer said the need always has existed for the equipment, but it became more apparent as a result of last week’s accident that ultimately claimed the life of her “beloved Jumping Jack Flash.”

“To stand there and watch this happening, if you only had the right equipment, it really brings it home. So people from animal control and all these other people working so hard know that their job might not be so tough if they had the proper equipment,” Archer said.

If the county had had this equipment last week, Jack would still be alive today, Archer firmly believes.

It was last Thursday afternoon after 14 inches of snow blanketed the county that Jack got too close to the edge of the icy creek and slipped in.

That day Archer said she decided to feed Jack and his sister, Dancer Flash, earlier than usual, around 3:30 p.m. so she could lock them up before the snowfall got heavier.

When she called the horses to come for their food, Jack didn’t show up, and Dancer was acting very antsy.

 “That’s when I knew something was wrong,” she said.

Archer said her husband, Boyd, got on his tractor and began searching for Jack, while Dancer led his wife straight to his location.

She immediately called Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders after finding the 2,400-pound animal trapped in the icy creek. Saunders arrived on the scene around 4:30 along with Deputy Emergency Services Coordinator Chad Loftis, a member of the National Guard, Halifax County Animal Control, Veterinarian Dr. Jon Collins and firefighters from Liberty Volunteer Fire Department and North Halifax Volunteer Fire Department.

For four hours, Jack remained stuck in the icy creek, while everyone worked to free him using hoses, tractors and Humvees.

Eventually, Archer said hypothermia took over, and Jack’s legs froze. He was unable to stand which made lifting difficult.

By 8:30 p.m. Jack had been pulled from the creek, but it was too late, Archer recalled.

Jack was unable to stand on his hind legs and was in such a bad condition, they made the tough decision to put him down.

“It broke everyone’s heart that he had to be put down,” said Halifax County Chief Animal Control Officer Todd Moser who assisted in the rescue effort.

Archer said from what she learned in a three-day technical large animal emergency rescue course she had taken along with Saunders, Loftis, Lea Brown and others, they could have gotten him out sooner if proper equipment had been available.

Dancer took the loss of her brother really hard, Archer said. During the ordeal she refused to leave her sibling’s side until he died.  Archer said Dancer is now very lonesome, and Archer is looking for a companion horse for her.

Archer had kept the horses for 12 years after rescuing them from Chesapeake where they previously had been mistreated. 

She took in the brother and sister duo along with their mother who preceded Jack in death.

They had been destined to be put down when her daughter-in-law asked her to rescue the horses, she said.

Archer only regrets the second rescue effort to save Jack didn’t have that happy ending.

She expressed appreciation to all those who helped try to save her beloved horse last Thursday. 

Anyone wishing to make a donation to purchase the large animal rescue equipment can mail a check to Technical Animal Rescue, 1181 Nathalie Road, Nathalie, VA 24577.