Louisiana State University’s School of Veterinary Medicine has a new graduate.
Poncho the Brangus bull was, like thousands of other Louisiana residents, displaced by the 2-trillion-plus gallons of rainwater that flooded the state in August. One month old at the time, Poncho was rescued by the Babin family after standing in a ditch with flood water up to his chest for nearly five days.
Poncho was fortunate in that he arrived to the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales while Matt Welborn, a professor at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, was taking shelter there. Welborn quickly noted that Poncho was suffering from severe dehydration — and depression — and administered IV fluids. Within a few days, Welborn’s wife Nancy — also a professor with LSU’s veterinary program — arrived at the Expo Center to assist with aiding displaced animals.
The pair quickly figured out Poncho was in dire straits: He would not stand up or take a milk substitute or hay. The sun’s reflection on the water in which he was standing — and the flood water’s toxicity — had given him corneal ulcers, and the skin on his legs was sloughing off from being submerged in water for so long.
Eventually, Poncho was transferred to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The injuries to his legs were treated with chlorhexidine baths in a whirl pool that belonged to the Dermatology service, which seemed to improve his spirits.
“The best part about working with Poncho was all the different clinical services that got involved,” Clare Scully, DVM, assistant professor of Food Animal Health Maintenance, wrote on LSU’s website. “This experience reaffirms to me how our hospital is truly One Health. No one ever said, ‘It’s just a bull.’ No one ever said ‘No.’ Everyone just pitched in to do whatever it took to help him.”
Poncho’s health started to turn around after a few weeks of treatment, and after two months, he was released to the family who rescued him, the Babins, whose son Kaleb stayed the night with the animal while at the Expo Center and christened him as well.
“In the midst of all the loss, I just decided that Poncho had to survive,” Nancy Welborn said. “He never gave up – he was this one little piece of positivity in the midst of all this sadness. He made everyone who met him smile. He was my light during a very trying and difficult time.”