Rescued horses used for Livingston Police mounted patrol

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A police department in the North Valley is working to expand its mounted patrol, and it all started with two special horses. (KFSN)

A police department in the North Valley is working to expand its mounted patrol, and it all started with two special horses.

Officers Lobo and Moe proudly patrol the streets of Livingston with help from their human partners. But not long ago, they were both rescued from sad situations. Moe was abandoned by his owner, and Lobo was badly abused until 2010. "Lobo was found standing probably knee deep in mud for a year in a 10 foot by 10 foot stall. Lobo right now is about 1,150 pounds, he was 850 pounds when he was found," said Officer Joe Cruz, Livingston Police Department.

The 15-year-old quarterhorse still has a dent on his face where he outgrew a halter that was left on too long, and his ribs are scarred from being heavily spurred. Officer Joe Cruz adopted both horses from the same facility and has paid for everything they need to work in law enforcement. "They're basically my horses, and it was just a little more training and more bling to make them into police horses, so I never really looked at it as being a big difference."

Lobo and Moe now make up the only armed, mounted patrol in Merced County. Officer Cruz says they're great for public relations because people love coming up to pet them. Lobo even has his own gold card for snacks at the Starbucks drive through. But the animals are also trained to do traffic stops, crowd control, and surveillance. They have calm demeanors and showed a sense of intuition when Cruz had a heat stroke on duty. "My partner was with me, and he had his hand on my shoulder and they both tiptoed till we stopped, and Moe actually stayed still while the paramedics got me off the animal."

The Livingston Police Department is now working to expand the program by training more officers to ride. "It's great. It gives us something different to look forward to, different opportunities, and different experiences," said Detective Patrick Radke, Livingston Police Department.

Officer Cruz also hopes others outside the department will learn from this pair, which he considers family. "Don't take on an animal you can't take care of. If you get a horse it's generally a 30 year commitment. And there are a lot of rescue animals out there that need help, and these two are success stories."
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