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MCC to Host Large Animal Rescue Awareness Training April 26

[Friday, April 18, 2014]

McHenry County College's Fire Science department, in cooperation with the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), is offering a unique Large Animal Rescue Awareness training from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 26 at McHenry County College. The college is located at 8900 U.S. Hwy. 14 in Crystal Lake.

This class will be presented by Dr. Deke Carls of IFSI. As a firefighter and large animal veterinarian, Carls brings both perspectives to this lively and information-packed presentation. Attendees will learn how to safely evaluate and effectively handle large animals in emergency situations without additional injury to the animal or themselves.

"We are very pleased to be able to present this training not only to first responders and MCC fire science and criminal justice students, but also to the public," Gruba said. "We invite large animal veterinarians, equine humane organizations, stable and barn owners, animal transportation companies and horse owners to attend. It is essential knowledge for anyone who works with large animals."

McHenry County has been documented as having the highest concentration of horses per capita in the entire state, and the market value of livestock from the county exceeds $30 million.  The Illinois horse industry produces goods and services valued at over $1.2 billion annually, and directly provides 15,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, according to the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois.

"Large animals are not just pets or hobbies; the animals inside a trailer can represent someone's whole livelihood," said Henry Gruba, MCC Fire Science department chair. "We are looking forward to bringing this specialized training to McHenry County. It is another skill in the fire service toolbox, like rope rescue, swift water or hazardous materials training. We may not use it every day, but when we need it, the knowledge and techniques are critical and save lives," Gruba added.

With more than five million animals traveling across Illinois each year, the increased likelihood of the need for large animal rescue led to the realization that while first responders are trained to extricate and rescue humans, they typically have not received training on the specialty heavy rescue of large animals from various entrapment situations, including overturned trailers, mud, ice, and barn fires.

The training will occur on the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) second annual National Help A Horse Day. It is held on this date in honor of the first successful arrest for the mistreatment of a horse on April 26, 1866, when ASPCA founder Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse.

“It is certainly timely and relevant to be discussing how to best help horses and other large animals on this particular day," Gruba said.

The course is free and open to the public; pre-registration is preferred at: or call Henry Gruba at (815) 455-8565. For more information, email


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