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Cleveland police horse previously sold for slaughter marches in inaugural parade

Published: Jan. 26, 2017 at 4:23 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2017 at 7:05 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cleveland Police Mounted Unit is back home after marching in President Donald Trump's inaugural parade in Washington D.C.

Breeze, Mandy, Gunner, Paco and Jakar -- along with accompanying officers -- walked 15 blocks up Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan. 20.

One of the unit's star horses, Jakar, had previously been sold to be slaughtered. Sgt. Mark Medwid said a woman saw the horse at auction and ended up changing its fate. Another woman later adopted the horse and contacted police.

"Beverly Ball from Sandusky contacted the unit and asked if I'd be interested in trying Jakar out for the unit," Medwid said. "So we went and looked at him. We rode him around a little bit and said, 'Well we'll give him a shot.'"

Jakar joined the force in 2012 and has been paired with Medwid ever since.

"He's a pretty affectionate horse. He likes people," Medwid said. "I mean for events that call for big crowds, I'll use him because he's very gentle with all the people (and) kids."

Medwid wishes the department had additional resources to rescue more horses.

"We can only do one rescue at a time," Medwid said.

Marty Irby is a senior director with the Humane Society of the United States. He's also a senior adviser for the Humane Society of Legislative Fund. He said right now there are no horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. but work continues to pass legislation get them permanently banned.

"But in the interim, we worked to basically achieve a de facto ban of horse slaughter," Irby said. "The USDA had inspected horse slaughter plants, and we worked with House and Senate appropriations to basically de-fund the inspection? And therefore the horse slaughter plants cannot operate."

Irby said it's a year-over-year Band-Aid that will soon be up for another fight. The long-term goal is to get a piece of legislation called the Safeguard American Food Exports Act passed. The bill would among several things prohibit the sale or transport of horses and other equines for the purpose of consumption.

Irby called Jakar a great ambassador for the Humane Society and the cause of saving horses.

"(Jakar is) a perfect example to show that horse slaughter is not needed in America and that you can rehabilitate these horses," Irby said. "You can re-home them, you can give them a new purpose in life and basically a new life. And to have an ambassador like that out there in the inaugural parade with law enforcement who are serving our country and protecting the American people is just a great, great example."

The Humane Society of the United States said its Homes for Horses program in partnerships with the ASPCA and Animal Welfare Institute has proven to be successful.

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