Beloved Vancouver police horse passes away

Pico, a veteran police horse, died after 13 years of stalwart service
with the Vancouver police mounted unit.
Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Police Department

Adapted from The Vancouver Sun

Level 3

For almost 20 years, Pico was a police horse in Vancouver.
Pico even had a badge number. It was 8254.
Pico joined the mounted squad in October, 1993.
In 2006 he retired, and became a therapeutic horse
for his last five years.
He was so gentle that children with disabilities could ride him.
This calm and reliable horse died peacefully on October 21, 2012.

Pico’s working life
Pico went to nearly every important event in Vancouver.
He was part of park patrols, Santa Claus parades,
Remembrance Day services and the Celebration of Light.
His final shift was at the 100th anniversary
of the police force’s mounted unit.

The Mounted Unit
The mounted unit in Vancouver has nine horses.
The horses are from four years old to 23 years old.
The unit has one sergeant and six constables.
They patrol over 1,000 acres and 125 miles of roads
and trails in Stanley Park.
The Mounted Unit stables are in Stanley Park
near the rose garden. There are guided tours of the stables.
If a child approaches a constable on horseback,
she can ask for a Collector’s Trading Card.
The cards have pictures of different horses and their riders.

A child in Stanley Park makes friends with one of the Mounted Squad
of the Vancouver Police Department.
Photo courtesy of the Vancouver Police Department

How horses become police horses
It is not easy to become a police horse.
The animals must be at least five years old.
They must be 16 hands high or more.
They must be dark in colour, and
have a quiet nature.

Testing a horse
For 60 days the horses have nuisance training.
They must get used to balloons, firecrackers,
and many other things.
If the horses pass these tests, they are slowly allowed
to go on the Stanley Park trails, then to more crowded areas.
The horse is then purchased and given a badge number.
A police member must then complete the training.

A thank you
The Mounted Unit participated in the 2010 Olympics
and the 2011 Stanley Cup riot.
After the riot, workers from the London Drugs store downtown
wanted to say thank you to the Mounted Unit.
The employees raised money and donated it to the unit.

The country boys of the Mounted Squad
The Mounted Unit was looking for a new horse.
They used the donation from London Drugs
to buy a new horse.
Instead, two horses were found. The animals were brothers.
They lived in Dunster, B.C. Where is Dunster?
Dunster is a small farming community 31 km east of McBride,
in east-central B.C.  The owner said the two horses
had to stay together.  Both horses passed the six weeks of tests!
This was amazing because only one in ten horses passes
these tests.  The two “country boys” became big city cops.

Turbo and Merlin
The two brothers were named Turbo and Merlin.
The police decided to change Merlin’s name.
His new name is London,
to remember the gift from London Drugs.
You can now see Turbo and London in Stanley Park.
Buses, people and bikes don’t bother them.
Vancouver get a lot of rain at times, so
their trainers are helping these new horses get used to umbrellas.