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Santa Monica Police Find Happy Pastures for Two of Their Own


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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

October 6, 2017 -- They patrolled the byways and beaches of Santa Monica together for 15 years, until age finally caught up with Spiderman and Barney and suddenly they needed retirement homes.

But they won’t need to sweat it.

After a combined 33 years on the job, the two horses are retiring from service as members as Santa Monica Police Department’s Mounted Unit and moving to a “good home” where they can remain together, courtesy of a trio of private owners.

“This is an excellent and rare opportunity for these horses to retire together with new owners who come recommended highly by our veterinarian,” Jacqueline Seabrooks, the recently retired police chief, wrote in a report asking for City Council approval of the donations.

Barney at 2015 National Night Out
Barney at 2015 National Night Out (Staff photo)

“These two specific horses have worked together for 15 years, and have been long-term stall-mates,” Seabrooks said.

“Housing them together in the same location, as this proposed adoption would ensure, is highly desirable for their future health and wellbeing.”

Spiderman was a seven-year-old quarter horse when he was bought by the SMPD in 1999 to join the Mounted Unit.

During the last year, Spiderman began to show signs of aging. He was losing weight, and required feed to be available around the clock to be able to patrol, as well as supplements to maintain his weight.

Due to the loss of weight and muscle as part of the aging process, the horse can carry light riders but is no longer fit for mounted policing, Seabrooks said.

Barney was a four-year-old Percheron quarter horse cross when he joined the force in 2002.

Two years ago, he started showing signs of aging, including lameness in both of his front lower limbs, Seabrooks said.

The lameness has become chronic and has been diagnosed as advanced arthritis of the distal interphalangeal (coffin) joint (both limbs). This condition causes moderate to severe lameness, making the horse unfit for mounted policing,” her report said.

“Additionally, the horse requires medication to be administered twice daily (morning and night) for pain relief.”

Due to the age and physical limitations of these horses, they are not suitable for any role besides serving as pets or companion animals, she said.

One is estimated to be valued at $0 and the other at less than $1,000.

“Due to the condition of the horses, attempting to sell these horses would not be feasible,” Seabrooks said. “The estimated dollar value of the horses would place them in what is considered to be the slaughter market price range.

"Trainers, riding stables and private owners are not interested in purchasing a lame or old horse, even at a low price,” she said.

Staff initially contacted a nonprofit equestrian youth program but the horses weren’t considered because of their age and physical condition.

“The proposed private party is the only group which could still utilize the horses as a pet or companion animal, as well as care for their medical needs. The Police Department’s veterinarian has cared for the horses in the Mounted Unit for more than 10 years.

Staff for the Mounted Unit started contacting the network of private owners and other police department mounted units for potential owners.

Three private owners -- Karen Schaffner, Teresa Foote and Jodie Sailor -- stepped forward to accept ownership, and will be responsible for proper care, housing and medical needs. They were recommended by the Police Department’s veterinarian.

There are currently no plans to replace Spiderman or Barney on the six-horse unit, which is used to provide high visibility patrol at special events and in areas of highly concentrated crowds.


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