Alaska, Here We Come


Lucky, injured, but eating

Our well-traveled Anderson Sling made a trip to the wild lands of Alaska in September of 2015. We had received a call from Colby Hunt representing a company which was producing a new series for the Animal Planet cable channel on a veterinarian in Alaska titled “Dr. Dee, Alaska Vet”. He said that an outfitter had been trying to ford a river with his four horses when two, Lucky and Bonehead, were swept downstream. Lucky sustained serious wounds to his leg and chest, but was able to get out of the water and ended up stranded on a mountain in the wilderness near Fairbanks. His veterinarian, Dr. Dee Thornell, reported that Lucky was eating and drinking, but that he needed to be helicoptered out of the rugged terrain for special care.

We gathered all of our rescue equipment together so that it could be rushed to Alaska by FedEx. Dr. Dee kept in touch with Dr. John Madigan of the University of Southern California at Davis who is the authority on the use of the sling and rescue by helicopter. She even practiced with all of our equipment, fitting it to Lucky before the actual rescue flight. The helicopter company decided to use their own 100’ cable as ours was only 65’ long and they needed a longer one to clear the tall trees and rocky outcroppings.

Lucky was hooked up into our sling and outfitted with our special halter which was secured by a strong web strap anchored onto a metal bar above his head and neck. The bar which is attached to the metal frame prevents the horse from lowering his head and curling like a banana which could cause him to slip out of the sling.

Dr. Dee tranquilized Lucky, but she did not use our blindfold fearing that he might slam onto the ground while being lowered to terra firma at the end of his flight. Once outfitted, Lucky began his harrowing rescue journey. He was flown almost THIRTY miles to a facility near Fairbanks where he could be treated for his severe injuries.

Post Script:
The story of Lucky’s rescue and helicopter flight will be one of the eight weekly episodes aired on Animal Planet every Saturday night at 6PM MDT, premiering November 7th. Operation Pegasus, the episode with the sling rescue aired January 2, 2016.

Post Post Script:
A special thanks to our special friends who made large cash donations in 2004 and 2005 for the purchase of our rescue equipment which we lend out at absolutely no charge! Thank you Nancy Gooding, Shirley Hoffman, Sally Larsh, Lauretta Boyd Charitable Trust, Nancy Reed, Susie Stroh, Sue Tinder and Harriet Weisenthal.


Dr. Dee’s support team watch as Lucky takes flight


Lucky on his 30 mile Journey to medical treatment

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