The three alarm fire that destroyed a large Bedford, NH horse barn on September 6, with great loss of life, was a big story in New Hampshire and the Boston media market. Perry Hill Farm is owned by Harriet Finks and her daughter Elissa Finks.The 10,000 square foot barn was destroyed and only 8 out of 22 horses survived. Those 8 were led out of the building but the others panicked and could not be saved. The women thought they had lost three cats, but a pair of pet goats and the farm’s 1,000 pound mascot Miss Colby the pig survived.
Three days after the fire, on September 9, Miss Colby headed for the site where the barn had stood, then veered over to a rock pile. Harriet and Elissa had no idea why Colby was interested in the pile of rocks until distinctive meows coming from the pile let the family know that 6 year old Gumbo, thought dead, had survived. Colby had sniffed the cat out and led the women to him.
Gumbo suffered serious second degree burns to his ears, his paws, one side of his body, and his tail, but thanks to the pig, he was found alive. After a short time at home, it was apparent that Gumbo was not healing well, so he was taken to Andover Animal Hospital, in Andover, MA. He could not even walk when he arrived at the hospital. Dr. Kimberly Wadsworth performed debriding surgery on Gumbo, and cleane and flushed his wounds. The recovering cat is expected to remain in the hospital for a few weeks. He is receiving fluids and pain meds and has his dressings changed every day.
Another cat thought lost, Gumbo’s sister Gidget, was found some days later after hiding in the woods for 13 days. Gidget also suffered burns and received treatment, but hers are less severe than Gumbo’s and she is at home.
The Finks women were not the only ones to keenly feel the loss. A community of young riding students, horse owners and friends shared – and still share – the shock and grief. A Facebook page, Perry Hill Farm Fire Fund, has become a gathering place for friends, where news and remembrances are shared. Photo albums show the survivors and the deceased, along with details from the fire’s aftermath. We suggest that anyone visiting the page click on the Posts by Others view to read the tributes to the deceased animals shared by Elissa Finks. News of Gumbo’s recovery is also updated at the page.
Andover Animal Hospital is accepting funds to help with Gumbo’s recovery. The hospital is located at 233 Lowell St., Andover MA 01810, where checks to The Shadow Fund can be mailed. The hospital can be reached at 978-475-3600 or [email protected]
This video shows Gumbo at the animal hospital, with vet tech Kristen Ingersoll. The best part … his purrs at the end.