Blair’s role and those of other veterinarians responding to such accidents is to advocate for the animals by assessing them for injuries, overseeing the safe transfer of uninjured ones and euthanizing those badly hurt and suffering.
“We’re there to immediately look after the animals and eliminate any suffering,” he said.
Livestock animals such as pigs and cattle are usually transported across the country in semitrailers. When trailers overturn and flip, “we see a lot of broken bones,” Blair said.
Animals with injuries such as bruising are well enough to continue their trips. But those in respiratory distress or with badly broken bones are euthanized, according to Blair. Veterinarians use a captive-bolt gun that delivers a blunt force rendering the animal unconscious, he said.
According to Blair, the outcome of the Monday accident was “pretty good” and that some pigs had to be euthanized at the scene “but the large majority were fine.”
The university’s College of Veterinary Medicine is called to two or three of these incidents a year. Veterinarians were called last year to an accident involving a semitrailer carrying cattle on I-74 near Oakwood. More than a dozen feeder cattle died or were euthanized in 2016 after a semitrailer overturned on an Interstate 57 exit ramp in Rantoul.