Injured colt rescued from Fremont ravine

A six day old colt was rescued from the bottom of a Fremont ravine, but mystery remains about how he got there.

"He's very tenacious, he has a strong will to live," Animal Services Officer Sarah Cattaneo told KTVU, at the Pleasanton stable where the colt is recovering.

Cattaneo feeds the colt every three hours, sort of a surrogate mom, and she has named him Valentine, in part because he was saved on Valentines Day.

"And he's very sweet, especially after going through a traumatic event," smiled Cattaneo, "so it stuck."

A hiker along Morrison Canyon Road spotted the colt at the bottom of a 150 foot ravine on Saturday but didn't report it until Sunday afternoon.

The hundred pound horse might have fallen from the roadside or the ranch land on either side of the gully, both steep cliffs.

"When I first walked up to him, he was screaming at me, like a little baby screaming," described Cattaneo.

He was laying in a creek, soaked and shivering. Cattaneo got him up and dried him, then wrapped him in a comforter.

As weak as he was, he tried to suckle her hand.

"He had so much will, so much fight," said Cattaneo. "Even the vet was astonished that after two days, he was still alive, because usually in those cold wet conditions they die."

A Fremont Fire crew arrived, and adapted its methods to suit the animal.
"We actually used some of the rescue harnesses we use on humans," Fire Engineer/Paramedic Osh Ahmad told KTVU.

"I was happy to see he was conscious and moving around, and after some kicking, stayed pretty calm."

Firefighters secured the colt and wrapped him in a tarp, then carried him up the slope with the help of a winch.

Afterward they posed for a jubilant picture with Valentine.

"You don't always get those results, so when we have something end like that, it's exciting, a good feeling, so hopefully the horse does well," said Ahmad.

Valentine is doing well, but has some serious fractures in his left hip from the fall.

Repair will cost between $7,000 and $10,000.

On Tuesday, he will be taken to the U.C. Davis Veterinary school for surgery.

No local rancher has stepped up to claim him.

"It's very unusual and until we know who the mare is, we won't know how he got there," Diane Offutt told KTVU.

Offutt owns the Owls Crossing Ranch on Camino Tassaraja Road, where the colt is recovering.

"We hope to nurse him back to health, and find him a great home," she added.

For everyone involved in the team effort, it's a rescue to remember.

"There's a couple that tend to stick with you for your whole career," admitted Cattaneo, "and this will be one of them."

Donations to help offset Valentine's recovery can be made to Fremont Animal Services at (510) 790-6640.