March 20, 2009 -- They're always there, whether it's bobbing over the heads of the crowds outside a Red Sox game or with billowing sails behind them on a spring day on the Charles River. You hear them clip-clopping up and down the cobblestones in front of Paul Revere's house and you see the familiar horse trailer parked in the strangest places downtown. And no one will ever forget the day that Boston Police horse fell down a manhole.
But everywhere you go in Boston lately, there's a hushed tone of concern: "Did you hear about the police horses?" "How can they shut them down?" "The first horse I ever patted was one of those big guys!" and, most often comes the follow-up, "What can we do to save them?"
In a city that's more like a town, and in a town where a horse is technically a "hoss", there is outrage, indignation and an outpouring of support to keep the clip-clop on the city's register of official sounds.
Horses have patrolled Boston streets since 1873. For many years the force favored Morgan-type horses but lately has bought and trained draft crosses that tower over crowds at events like the New England Patriots' Super Bowl victory parades. Boston Police horses galloped onto the Fenway Park outfield when a riot erupted at the 1912 World Series.
But across the country, from Honolulu to Cincinnati, police horses have been menaced with the budget ax in the past few years, although Philadelphia's new commissioner bucked the trend and pledged to bring back the disbanded mounted unit there. On March 5, Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis announced budget cuts which included disbanding the Boston Mounted Police Unit.
Boston horse lovers are not letting their street-savvy steeds go without a fight. An online petition has been launched at www.thepetitionsite.com/3/Save-Boston-Police-Mounted-Unit with plenty of room for your signature, whether you live in Boston or not.
A Facebook group "Save the Boston Police Mounted Unit" already has 930 members: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54704243322
Supporters of the Boston Police Mounted Unit may also write to:
Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis
Boston Police Headquarters
One Schroeder Place
Boston MA 02120
Or contact the office of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino:
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fran Jurga is the author of The Jurga Report, a blog about horse health care, equine science and research and news that affect horses.