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VIDEO: Further surgery for stallion shot in murder-suicide

January 24, 2010

Senior veterinary technician Lyn Schad escorts Picaro along the main corridor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's Hospital for Large Animals. © Andy Cunningham, Tufts University.

The stallion shot three times at the scene of an apparent murder suicide earlier this month has undergone further surgery. He is reported to be bright and alert.

Picaro required emergency surgery 10 days ago after being taken from the scene of the shooting, in Spencer, Massachusetts, to the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's Hospital for Large Animals.

Picaro lost his right eye as a result of the gunshot injuries and surgeons have removed multiple bone fragments from his head.

He went into a surgery again on Wednesday to allow veterinarians to stabilise his jaw and remove fragments of his hyoid bone.

Hospital staff said Picaro remained in intensive care but was otherwise bright and alert. He was walking and remained on a liquefied diet.

He is receiving a great deal of attention and around-the-clock care at the hospital from his team of caregivers, including fourth-year veterinary student Jared Ravich, faculty veterinarians, interns, residents, and technicians.

He took exercise on Friday, walking along the hospital's long central corridor several times, guided by a student and a resident.

Anesthesia resident Marco Ruffato monitors Picaro's vitals as the horse undergoes a CT scan on Wednesday at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's Hospital for Large Animals. © Andy Cunningham, Tufts University.
"He's in good spirits, and we hope he continues on this path of improvement," said Carl Kirker-Head, the associate professor of surgery in charge of the horse's care.

"He's increasingly comfortable, thanks to two successful surgeries thus far, as well as pain medication that he's tolerating well."

Despite the improving indicators of health, Picaro's progress remains day-to-day, and he faces a number of hurdles along road of recovery, Dr Kirker-Head said. Staff used the school's new 16-slice CT scanner, which allowed them to characterise with a high degree of accuracy the path of the bullets that wounded the gray Paso Fino.

The 14-year-old horse was then transferred into surgery, whereupon Drs Carl Kirker-Head and Jose Gacia-Lopez, assisted by resident Dr Diego Quinteros, used Picaro's intact left jawbone as an anchor for stabilising the badly damaged right jawbone.

They also removed bits of his shattered hyoid apparatus.

Picaro was brought to the hospital on January 14 by Carol Gaucher, of Spencer Animal Control, and walked in under his own power.

Cummings officials are working with the horse's custodian, Kelley Small, of West Boylston, Massachusetts, to make medical decisions and find a loving home for Picaro should he recover as anticipated.

Veterinary technician Darlene Staplins scratches the top of Picaro's head on Thursday at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's Hospital for Large Animals. Fourth-year student Jared Ravich and senior technician Lyn Schad look on. © Andy Cunningham, Tufts University.
Cummings School officials have received more than $US1000 in donations in Picaro's honour thus far. Bills for the horse's care have surpassed the $US10,000 mark.

Authorities are continuing their inquiries into the circumstances around the fatal shootings of Michael S. Khoury, 69, and his wife, Joyce M. Khoury, 66, at the Spencer address where Picaro was found.

Mrs Khoury was found dead in a bedroom of their Spencer home and Mr Khoury was found in the doorway. He was taken to hospital but was declared dead soon after.

The shootings unfolded just hours before the couple's home was to be auctioned in a foreclosure sale.

Mr Khoury, who is believed by authorities to be behind the shootings, is also thought to be responsible for setting the house and a pickup truck alight.

Below, a CT (computerized tomography) scan shows the path of entry and shattered bone in the skull of Picaro.



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