Thursday, July 26, 2012

New life for Grace Foundation rescue horse in Folsom - Folsom Telegraph

Folsom Telegraph

By Laura Newell, Telegraph Staff Writer

Dunbar the horse joined the Folsom Police Department after being nursed back to health at The Grace Foundation in El Dorado Hills. He was rescued from a ranch in Susanville. Riding Dunbar is Folsom Police Sgt. Dirk Regan.

FOLSOM, CA - The Folsom Police Department welcomed a new member to their mounted unit in June.
Dunbar the horse joined the force after being nursed back to health at the Grace Foundation, based in El Dorado Hills, where he was rescued from a facility in Susanville.
According to Folsom Police Department Sgt. Dirk Regan, Dunbar was severely malnourished, at about 400 pounds underweight. Regan said Dunbar was then brought back to good health at the grace foundation and is in good health today.
“Dunbar was surrendered from a facility in Susanville before the recent Susanville seizure happened,” Regan said. “He was evaluated by the foundation and was recommended as a police horse candidate.”
Regan said he then went to evaluate Dunbar and found him to be a good fit for the Folsom Police Department’s mounted unit.
“We put him through a number of preliminary tests and a basic assessment test for the department. He passed back in May,” Regan said. “He will have to retake the assessment test ever year.”
Regan said today there are four fulltime horses total on the department with two in reserve, after the unit originated in May of 2004 with two horses. The police horses stay at the Grace Foundation during off duty hours.
“We are able to maintain this unit because of our partnership with the Grace Foundation,” Regan said. “We use the horses as a public information tool, especially in local schools. Adults and children alike are interested in horses, so it gives us an avenue to talk and work with locals on a personal level. This helps reach the bridge between our residents and us as officers.”
Gerard D’onofrio, of Folsom, said he enjoys seeing the Folsom Police Department use the horses at special events including the Folsom Pro Rodeo’s cattle drive on Sutter Street.
“As long as they have the horses, they might as well use them,” D’onofrio said. “Horses are great for helping with crowd control. Plus, they are just beautiful, majestic animals.”
Regan said a mounted unit gives officers advantages while serving the community. The mounted unit is used primarily at special events, large gatherings or if there is a need for crowd control or high visibility.
“The great advantage of working from a horse is high visibility patrol,” Regan said. “In areas that we have the horses we can see a great distance while patrolling a crowded area. We use our mounted patrol heavily in the holiday season.”
He said being a mounted unit patrol officer is no different than being a car or foot patrolling officer. However, mounted unit officers also need to pass the yearly basic assessment test along with their horse.
“Mounted unit officers need is to be able to operate all police duties while patrolling on their horse including using a radio, swinging batons, shooting their firearms and apprehending criminals,” Regan said. “We are expected to do everything that an officer in a car or on foot can do, just on a horse.”
Regan said officers will often build strong bonds with their animal partners, such as horses and canines.
“We build a very strong bond with our horses and because the service life of a police horse can potentially be much longer than a canine,” Regan said. “A police horse can have a service life of 15 to 20 years, which is sometimes longer than the service life of the rider.”
Dunbar is the third horse acquired from the Grace Foundation.
“The special thing with Dunbar is he was in such a poor condition and was basically left to die by his previous owner,” Regan said. “He is very inspirational for people who may have also been neglected in their lives. He had a fighting chance and he survived. He is an inspiration for people, community members and the department. We work so many hours with him and see how far he has come. He does this great work for us, and has survived such a great story.”
For more information on the Folsom Police Department’s Mounted Unit, visit
For more information on the Grace Foundation, visit

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