Resort town's officers mourn death of four-legged colleague

October 16, 2008|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,gus.sentementes@baltsun.com

Over the years, Buddy helped quell rowdy Ocean City club crowds, patrol sandy beaches, keep order on the famous boardwalk and assist in arrests. The veteran patrol horse could also be found at major events, such as President Bill Clinton's second inauguration parade 11 years ago.

But after 16 years of service with the Ocean City Police Department, Buddy retired last month to a farm in Wicomico County, the department said yesterday. He had been suffering from arthritis and hadn't been used much toward the end of his career, a police spokesman said. At 27 years old, Buddy suffered an injury to his right rear leg that turned out to be inoperable, and he was euthanized Oct. 6, the department said.

"If there was a way to save the animal, we would've done it," said Officer Michael Levy, the town's Police Department spokesman. "It was a very hard day for quite a few of us."

Levy said Buddy - an American quarter horse - had been involved in hundreds of arrests and was used to train new police riders. Police horses had to be trained to get used to heavy trucks and motorcycles on streets, dealing with large crowds and working with police dog units. The horse had "tons of experience" that helped train others, including rookie police horses.

"If Buddy wouldn't spook, the new horse would not either," Levy said.

The department used to have as many as six horses, but now it is down to three, Levy said.

Before Buddy died, Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino did something to honor the horse's years of service: She promoted him to sergeant.

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