Equestrian officers trot off into retirement

29th Aug, 2018

Written by Belinda Abraham – Communications, Resource Development & Education Manager, Cape of Good Hope SPCA, Grassy Park, Cape Town

When four-legged Metro Police officers Silver, Venus, Misty, Jinx and Vossie bowed out of service, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA were tasked with finding new pastures for their retirement.

These five hard-working Equestrian Unit officers were retired from the City of Cape Town’s Metro Police Department due to age and/or medical reasons after years of dedicated service to the City of Cape Town and its residents. The horses are aged between 14 and 25 years old.  

Their retirement comes soon after eight of their K9 Unit colleagues also handed in their badges. Canines Kelly, Roxy, Champ Boy, Mo, Luke, Ace, Raka and Nandi have been taken into the personal care of their respective handlers.

Serving and protecting

“Our Service Animals Unit is a crucial cog in the City’s law enforcement strategy and has racked up numerous successes since inception. These wonderful animals have gone about serving Cape Town with dogged determination and they’ve certainly not horsed around on the job,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

During April 2018 alone, the Service Animals Unit attended to 68 complaints and conducted 41 arrests on a range of charges including murder, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, possession of drugs, assault and outstanding warrants. They confiscated five firearms, 36 rounds of ammunition and an array of drugs and marine resources. The Equestrian Unit also clocked 152 patrol hours.

“We handed over the horses to the Cape of Good Hope SPCA with whom we have a very good working relationship,” adds Alderman Smith. “I have every confidence that the SPCA would find good homes for our officers and was very happy to hear they were homed together and can spend their retirement years peacefully and with dignity.”

CoGH SPCA Horse Care Unit Manager Lindsay Willis says, “We were delighted to see the City of Cape Town Metro Police showing such a vested interest in these horses’ care post-retirement. The Cape of Good Hope SPCA worked very hard to ensure they found a suitable retirement home where we know they will be cared for well into their twilight years.”

One might think that finding a home for five older horses would take time, but the perfect home found them in no time at all. Today, these stalwart guardians of the city are enjoying a well-deserved retirement together on a farm near Cape Town, where they will live happily ever after.

THE FAMOUS FIVE

By Patricia Lopez, the horses’ new owner

In December 2017, I relocated to Kalbaskraal, a rural area about 40 minutes’ drive outside Cape Town. It was a final move from much upheaval and shifts on my life journey. I resigned from my permanent employment at the end of March 2018.

My sole intention was to recalibrate and focus full-time on a children’s NPO called Angel Whispers, which emerged to me in a dream in 2014.

Purely instinctive

During late May 2018, my attention was drawn to a post about five retired police horses, in which a friend tagged me. It was purely instinctive that I immediately called Lindsay Willis of Cape of Good Hope SPCA to enquire if I could adopt one of the officers.

Lindsay invited me to visit the SPCA in Grassy Park and, on the 4th of June, my grandson Reece and I went to meet the retirees. It was unquestionably an instant connect, as Vossie, team leader and alpha male, took to us and, moreover, left Reece with a huge sense of camaraderie and kinship.

Lindsay and her team took all the time to also introduce me to Venus, Mystery Girl and Silver. She informed me that they worked together for the City of Cape Town and, ideally, she’d prefer that they retire together. Without hesitation I agreed that they could inspect my premises to check if it was suitable to house the whole team.

Making it a home

I only have a minor recollection of the formalities we went through in Lindsay’s office, except that I felt a deep emotional stirring at what I was doing for the horses – it felt right. On the 15th of June I received the call: my place had passed inspection. 

The only hitch was that there weren’t enough shelters or stables. I was quietly apprehensive and yet always felt calmness in the decision to have Vossie, Mystery Girl, Venus and Silver retire with me whilst embarking on my purpose-filled venture in the Kalbaskraal community.

After much to-ing and fro-ing with various people and Lindsay for the erection of suitable housing, I took a leap of faith and called Dynamic Timbers to do the work. It was a worthwhile expense as all I could think of was that I had committed to the SPCA. We had storm delays but finally got the shelters built. My landlord was very generous in their consent to have us living happily.

Interestingly, during the building time, I got a call to ask if I would take Jinx with the family. In a moment I thought that I was taking on more than I could manage, but I still said yes, I’d take Jinx too.

On the 3rd of July 2018, the new houses were completed for five Equine Officers! Two days later, the SPCA horse trailers arrived, bringing them to their new home with me in Kalbaskraal.

They’ve settled in well and are more than family; they’ve brought a refreshing dimension to our tiny De Oewer community. Their well-being and holistic care are the focus of the loving neighbours who visit daily.

Watch the horses in action on YouTube: Angel Whispers provides sanctuary Retired Police Horses (https://youtu.be/auVW4-l2Ec8)