At 17.1 hands, Jake is a big horse with high energy. He likes people, even if he’s not overly affectionate with them. He’s got a soft spot for children though, and will stand quietly for hours while they pet, play next to, even run underneath him.
A Percheron/Thoroughbred/Appaloosa mix, Jake has spent the past 11 years patrolling the streets of Indianapolis with officer Jason Palumbo, who calls him “the best partner you could ever ask for.”
To protect and serve was a way of life for Jake, until he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of skin cancer. Then, he needed the public to return the favor.
And did they ever.
Sergeant Allan Whitesell, commander of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Mounted Patrol, says they’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support. “The amount of emails, the amount of phone calls, the phone’s blowing off the hook, people wanting to hear how he is, how they can help, where they can send the money to.”
The cost of Jake’s surgery couldn’t be covered under the guidelines of basic veterinary care in the city budget. And the IMPD Horse Patrol Association, a private group formed to support the mounted patrol, didn’t have excess funds. So, they had to do something they’ve never done before…go to the public for help.
Whitesell set up a Go Fund Me account to pay for Jake’s care, which is ongoing. “It’s just great knowing how much they support us. And we support them. And that’s why we’re out there. We call ourselves the approachable police.”
Excess funds will be used to replace Fred, a senior horse the patrol lost in November and possibly add another. Over the years, the mounted patrol has gone from 14 horses to seven. Ideally, they’d like nine. But at $4,500-7,000 per horse, they also need help from the public to grow.
IMPD Mounted Patrol plans to hold a contest to name the next horse. But Whitesell says anyone who comes up with the funds can name it whatever they like…within reason. “As long as it’s not ‘Buttercup’ or something,” joked Palumbo.
The mounted patrol has a unique and visible presence during large sporting events hosted by Indianapolis, including the Super Bowl, NCAA basketball tournaments, and the Indy 500.
Big event or small, the horses of the IMPD Mounted Patrol serve a purpose that’s both useful and unique. Whitesell says they can see, navigate, and get through a crowd faster than anyone. And they also tend to attract a crowd.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m in the heart of East District or in Broad Ripple. It doesn’t matter. The kids, parents, adults, everybody comes out to talk to us and pet the horses.”
After undergoing successful surgery on Wednesday, Whitesell hopes to have Jake back in the lineup in time for Indianapolis to host the Final Four April 4-6.
Jake turns 13 on Sunday. For his birthday, he’d like you to join the IMPD Horse Patrol Association.
After all, we have a thing for horses around here.
And we do love our boys in blue.