A different kind of roadblock

February 4, 2019
Bo Brock, DVM

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.

dvm360, dvm360 March 2019, Volume 50, Issue 3

A raging bull makes for an exciting Wednesday morning for a veterinary practice and its resourceful clients.

Our veterinary clinic is on the south side of Lamesa on the business route of Interstate 87-I mean right on that road. Nothing separates an unbound animal from cars going 50 miles per hour but about 20 yards of parking lot. This has always made me crazy with worry. I've learned to check gate latches over and over, make sure halters are buckled correctly, make sure doors are closed. But still, some of them just get away.

We were testing bulls in the food animal clinic on a shiny Wednesday morning. The bulls don't like this procedure too much, and a particular one-ton Brangus was downright angry. I was working on a lameness case in the horse clinic for a couple of twenty-somethin' cowboys from down south when the noise hit me.

It wasn't so much what people were saying; it was the tone of their shouts that sent chills down my spine-terror and dread rolled into one. My location in the horse barn did not offer me a view of what the commotion was about, but I had a good idea what was going on.

As I sprinted out the front door of the barn, I saw the beginning of the calamity. Someone had forgotten to close the gate at the end of the squeeze chute when the giant Brangus bull was released from his aggravating semen collection. He was totally angry … and free.

Everyone has a different thought going through their head when a moment like this occurs. All I could think was, “What kind of damage is gonna occur when this beast goes running against traffic on a highway loaded with fast-moving cars?”

The heroes of this story should be stated before the action begins. The two twenty-somethin's had grown up with bad-humored bulls, and they took off running to their truck. One jumped in the driver's seat, the other on the flatbed spinning a loop into his rope. I felt immediate relief having them as backup.

I started barking orders to everyone who could hear me. I was even telling clients to saddle their horses and told a tech to go saddle mine. At this point, we weren't sure how much bluff and how much actual fight this critter was going to display, but we were about to find out.

The first person the bull encountered was a client standing next to his pickup. When the man saw him, he started waving his arms trying to scare the bull back toward the pens. All it did was provide the bull with a target. I cringed as it became apparent that this man was about to experience a whipping. The man, realizing there was nowhere to go, opened his truck door and attempted to jump inside.

He was way too slow. The bull hooked him under the butt and knocked him off his feet. He then began pushing the man around with the top of his head until he had the fella stuffed under his pickup.

The bull then went to work on the pickup door, caving in the panel and shaking the entire vehicle like it was a toy. Another client saw the situation and decided to get in his truck and place it between the bull and the highway to prevent disaster. The bull was not a bit distracted. He went ahead caving in the door of the second truck and ripping off the rearview mirror.

Finally the bull made it to the highway. Cars were driving south; he was headed north. Cars began slamming on their brakes and swerving from side to side to avoid him. I could see the expressions on the drivers' faces as they went past-terror, anger, astonishment and relief.

I had almost run out of hope when I noticed the cavalry coming from the north. The two twenty-somethin's were smart enough to leave the lot, go a few blocks north and then circle around back south to head the bull off. Not only that, they were positioned at just the right angle for the rope swinger on the flatbed to take action. He had that rascal roped so quick, I couldn't believe it. He secured the rope to something on the bed of the truck, and whatever it was, it held fast. The bull came to a jerking stop as all the slack was taken.

What the cowboys had not anticipated was the bull running around the truck. Of course, as he did, he caved in yet another door. They managed to pull him back to the clinic and we got him secured in a pen. We all high-fived the young cowboys and exclaimed over what heroes they were.

I never came up with a total of what that 30 minutes one Wednesday cost the clinic. There were several insurance companies involved and hours of time spent trying to make things right. The bull owner was kind and humiliated that his animal had acted so poorly. The clients were all still alive and understanding-even the fella we had to pull out from under his truck.

I told the city I was going to put a fence up next to the street to keep these things from happening again. They said it was too close the road and I couldn't. This means that if you ever drive by Brock Vet Clinic, you'd better slow down. You never know when a bull might be running through the streets of Lamesa.

Bo Brock, DVM, owns Brock Veterinary Clinic in Lamesa, Texas. His latest book is Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere: Tales of Humor and Healing From Rural America.

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