A team of vets have been called “heroes” for helping to save 33 cattle from an overturned lorry in Gobowen, Shropshire.

The incident saw a double-decker vehicle carrying 40 cattle flip over, prompting an urgent call to the veterinary teams at Brownlow and Park Issa farm vets.

The swift response of the vets, supported by local farmers and the emergency services, resulted in the successful rescue of 33 cattle under “hugely challenging conditions”, IVC Evidensia Farm Vets said.

Five of the animals had to be put to sleep at the scene to prevent further suffering, and two others died because of injuries they sustained in the crash.

Clinical director at Brownlow, David Martin, said: “Responding to emergencies like this is always stressful, but seeing our training in large animal rescue come to life in collaboration with the emergency services and the local farming community was extraordinary.

“Our deepest thanks go to everyone involved, especially our off-duty Brownlow and Park Issa large animal team, for their remarkable dedication and immediate action. They are all absolute heroes.”

Rescue operation

The livestock lorry overturned on a busy A-road, posing severe risks to the animals onboard, IVC Evidensia Farm Vets said.

The rescue team used a mobile handling unit borrowed from a nearby farm to move the cattle safely from the overturned lorry to a secure area.

About 15 local farmers assisted in the operation, bringing the tools and extra hands needed to make the rescue operation work.

It took more than two hours before the team could safely open the lorry’s back door, and about five hours in total to free the last of the cattle.

Martin highlighted the significant contributions of Park Issa vets Vitoria Hipolito and Suzanne Vos, saying they each played pivotal roles in the rescue operation.

“They both rushed to help on their day off, and their expertise and dedication were crucial in managing the situation,” he said.

“Suzanne stepped in to cover emergency calls, which allowed us to focus on the rescue operation at the crash site.

“This incident really tested our emergency response and, in the end, strengthened it. It was also an invaluable learning opportunity, particularly for team members who hadn’t faced such a large-scale emergency before.”

Martin said the incident underlines how important it is for vets to keep training in large animal rescue and first aid.

Farming community

Vitoria Hipolito, a vet involved in the rescue, said the incident demonstrated the strength of cooperation between vets, the farming community and emergency services.

“As farm vets, we work shoulder to shoulder with the farming community, and this incident demonstrated that unity,” she said.

“It was a complex rescue operation, with five fire and rescue engines on the scene, including Shropshire’s only animal tender, specifically equipped for animal emergencies like this one.

“The livestock lorry had up to nine separate pens, each requiring manual release. As we freed the cows in batches, our joint efforts allowed us to systematically assess, treat, and safely move them into waiting vehicles.”

Watch manager at Ellesmere Fire Station, Steve Moorhouse, described the incident as “complex” and said it was “thanks to the swift response of the vets” in attendance that they successfully managed to rescue the cattle.

“Time was of the essence to remove the animals as quickly as possible, ensuring their safety as well as everyone involved in the incident,” he said.