New Hampshire Police Horses Sidelined
Posted: May 25th, 2007 11:20 AM PDT
HAMPTON, N.H.-- Police are investigating a case of possible animal abuse that hits close to home because it involves all four horses in the department's Mounted Patrol Unit and may sideline the unit for the summer season.
Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said the horses, which were housed and cared for at a family-owned farm at the Tide Water Campgrounds on Route 1, were found to be severely underweight last week during a routine veterinarian examination.
The department is awaiting an official report from the veterinarian on what could have caused the rapid weight loss in the horses, but the preliminary indication is they were suffering from worms and were not properly fed by their caretakers.
"Our main concern right now is the health and well-being of the horses," said Sullivan, who noted all four horses were relocated to another undisclosed farm. "But we are going to determine how something like this occurred and make sure it doesn't happen again."
Sullivan said this is the first time police have had a problem with care of the horses at the barn that is owned by Wallace "Wally" Shaw. Sullivan said police believe the horses' rapid weight loss occurred in a five- to six-week period when their primary caretaker was in Florida.
"We reviewed all the care and feeding procedures and it appears the feeding schedule was not followed as it was supposed to be," Sullivan said. "It appears the individual who took over for the primary caretaker misunderstood the feeding schedule of the horses.
"We have used the same barn for 26 years and there has never been a problem up until now. I think that is why we are so shocked this situation occurred."
The town has partnered with Shaw's Lafayette Road farm to house the horses since the unit's inception in 1981. At the time, Shaw volunteered to build the barn on his property at no cost to the police department and offered to take care of the horses when they were not in use.
The town in return pays the owner $450 per horse a month to cover costs of boarding, feeding, hay and stall cleaning.
The horses -- Blaze, Patriot, Buddy and Arrow -- are in a private facility under constant monitoring by an experienced equine caregiver. The caregiver is following a treatment plan developed by the veterinarian to get the horses back to a healthy weight.
Retired Deputy Chief Dennis Pelletier, who cares for all the retired horses in the unit at his own farm, is taking part in the care for the sick horses.
Sullivan said the horses are responding well to treatment, but it could take weeks and possibly months before they will be back to normal. As a result, the unit, which is celebrating its 26th anniversary, will probably not be used this summer.
"Based on the information I have at this point, actively riding the horses this summer seems unlikely," Sullivan said.
Republished with permission of The Seacoast Media Group.