NEW ORLEANS – Ever dreamed of having your own police horse?
With the Adopt A Horse program from the New Orleans Police Department, now you can.
The program aims to help expand the NOPD’s Mounted Unit with both adult horses and new foals, as well as get the proper equipment to outfit the horses.
“We were kind of thrust into the breeding program because Angola penitentiary, where we’ve gotten our horses for the last 30 years or so, shut down their breeding program and their horse program altogether,” explained Ofc. David Waguespack, lead mounted instructor for NOPD’s mounted unit. “We’re going to start a breeding program of our own, and the funds are really going to help us get that started.”
The breeding program has already had some success, with two new foals this year. A colt, Tebo Stardust, was born in March.
In April, a female foal named Dixie Lady was born.
“It’s like having small kids, and we kind of help them grow up and we raise them from here,” said Waguespack.
That way, NOPD can ensure the horses have a good bloodline and temperament, something that’s important when the horses go into situations where large crowd control is important.
NOPD’s Mounted Unit, started in 1925, helps with large events such as Mardi Gras, Bayou Classic and Essence Fest. Officials said one mounted unit can do the equivalent of ten officer’s work who are on foot, as far as crowd control.
“Imagine Mardi Gras without the mounted division,” said Melanie Talia, CEO of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, who run the Adopt-A-Horse program. “They are an integral part of keeping our city safe. It’s essential for us to grow and maintain our mounted unit.”
Eleven horses are up for adoption. For the adult horses, you’ll get to know the police officer who rides them, and you can come out to the stable at City Park, take pictures of the horse and help groom the animal. NOPD also has private events planned for adoptive families at the stables. The adoptions are also tax deductible.
Officers said the program gives them one more way to connect to the community.
“As we’re on the street, we do encourage the tourists and the visitors to come up and ask us about the horses, ask us about the mounted division,” said Waguespack.
Adoptive families can have an exclusive look at what goes into making some of New Orleans’ Finest.
“I just hope that community rallies around and ponies up for the mounted unit,” said Talia.