On Thursday afternoon, a family milking cow slid down a 20-foot embankment and got stuck in mud up to its belly. The cow’s owners worked for several hours to cut back blackberry bushes and dig the cow out, but the cow just sank deeper into the mud. After exhausting their options, the family called Clark Cowlitz Fire and Rescue to ask for assistance.
The on-duty CCFR Battalion Chief drove to the site east of Ridgefield, and determined that firefighters could likely lift the cow out of the mud with the assistance of a crane. Two CCFR units responded to the scene and began preparing the cow to be lifted while BC Graham called TLC Towing in Ridgefield to assist.
TLC Towing responded with a “Rotator Wrecker”, which is a large, heavy-duty wrecker used for towing large vehicles. The “Rotator” is equipped with a crane that can swing from side-to-side and lift heavy loads. TLC often uses the Rotator Wreckers to recover large trucks and trailers that have rolled over.
Once TLC arrived and set up the crane, firefighters placed lifting straps around the cow and resumed digging around the legs. The TLC crane then began slow and steady lifting pressure on the cow. When people or animals get stuck in wet mud, the mud creates a “suction” around the legs. The more the legs are pulled on, the more the suction tries to hold the legs in place. For this reason, the crane operator and the firefighters digging out the legs must work in unison to ensure the animal (or, in some cases, a person) is not injured by pulling too hard before the legs are freed.
After about an hour of hard work, the cow’s legs were freed and the crane lifted the cow back onto solid ground. Firefighters ensured the cow could stand on its own and wasn’t injured before removing the lifting straps. The cow was able to bear its own weight, and quickly walked off once the straps were removed.
The family was grateful to have their pet back safely. TLC Towing did not charge the family for their services during this rescue.
According to Fire Chief John Nohr, “TLC Towing has been a great partner to CCFR and other emergency response agencies in our region. They are consistently ready to help us, whether it’s helping untangle a serious vehicle crash or just helping get an animal unstuck”.