A tragic moment for the Houston Police Department has been memorialized in a photograph that is going viral. In it, a Houston police officer comforts one of the city’s police horses that was struck by a commercial vehicle.
The officer who had been riding the horse had to be taken to the hospital, so another mounted officer stayed with the animal during its last few minutes before being euthanized.
The police horse had been spooked and tossed her rider before stepping into traffic and being fatally hit by a vehicle, near downtown Houston.
The Animal Justice League issued a statement on social media saying:
“We’ve always said we support ALL animals and know the relationship with those animals & their person is an incredible thing. Yesterday, here in Houston, a police horse backed into the wheel well of a concrete truck and sustained a broken leg. While Officer Herrejon (Charlotte’s partner) was being transported by ambulance to the hospital, another officer, Ronald Curry laid her down and covered her face while she took her last breaths before being euthanized on the scene. We admire the heart & strength of this officer because as you know, when you lose an animal, to be with them during their last breath is a heartbreaking & tough thing to do. Our hearts go out to both officers & the HPD family. RIP Charlotte.”
The Houston Police Department also released a memorial statement on their Facebook page which read:
“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of Charlotte, an HPD Mounted Patrol horse, who died in the line of duty this morning in a motor vehicle accident. Charlotte came to HPD as an unstarted 2-year old Tennessee Walker from Oklahoma. She thrived in HPD Mounted Patrol’s barefoot and natural horsemanship programs. She passed her evaluation period with flying colors and was working the streets of Downtown Houston within a short time of being started under saddle. She loved her job and was always ready to go to work putting bad guys in jail or giving nuzzles to children. She served the citizens of Houston for 4 years. She will be missed.”
The city of Houston, Texas has about thirty-eight horses and thirty-two mounted officers in its equestrian unit. They accept donated horses and also purchase them occasionally. Before each horse is deployed into the field, they must pass an intensive ninety-day training course and demonstrate that they are suitable for law enforcement duty. They are then matched to the officers based on temperament and riding skill. Each officer then becomes personally responsible for the care and welfare of their assigned horse.
When a horse is retired from the police department, they are given over for adoption by suitable horse lovers.
The Houston Police Department is also doing groundbreaking work on a bare foot program that does not use horseshoes. Their program is being adopted by other departments around the country.
Horses and dogs have served our communities in law enforcement roles for as long as we have had communities. They always perform their jobs with enthusiasm and make great ambassadors for law enforcement agencies, because, well, who doesn’t like a dog or a horse? Criminals, that’s who.
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