HPD honors fallen police horse in memorial service

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HPD honors police horse in memorial service, Deborah Wrigley (KTRK)

If a picture tells a story, then the portrait of a public servant named Charlotte will speak volumes, and keep her memory alive.

The portrait was unveiled Wednesday outside the Houston Police Officers' Union offices. Members of HPD's Mounted Patrol looked, some holding back tears.

Six months ago, Charlotte, a six-year-old Tennessee Walker, was struck by a concrete truck when she backed into traffic. Her injuries were fatal, she was euthanized where she lay in downtown Houston. The officer who'd been riding her was injured and has yet to return to duty.

For Lt. Randall Wallace, it's still a painful memory and loss.

"Unless you're a horse owner or an officer riding on patrol through downtown, you don't understand how strong the bond is between horse and officer," he said.

He was the person who first saddled her when she was donated to the Mounted Patrol program. She was only two years old, green and had never before been ridden.

"She was green. In six months, we were on patrol."

She was a public servant that never complained, expect perhaps when she was denied a treat on the job. Children loved her and she was gentle.

A photograph of Charlotte, being comforted by an officer as she lay on the concrete touched a lot of hearts, and got the attention of a Pennsylvania-based non profit called K9 Hero Portrait Project.

Artist Loreen Panteleone had painted portraits of military and law enforcement dogs killed in the line of duty. But she's also a horse owner.

"I know the bond that exists between horse and officer," she said. "I had to paint her portrait."

Rather than focusing on the final moments of Charlotte's life, the artist focused on what she did.

"Walking up steps, stopping for kids to pet her," all of that.

In the portrait that was given to the department, the subject is saddled, with a police pouch as well. Charlotte is looking back. It's up to the imagination to wonder whether she's waiting for her partner to catch up.

In the end, it will allow Charlotte to continue giving to the community she served.

"We'll include a history next to the portrait," said Lt. Wallace. "She;s going to continue to touch lives and be an inspiration long after we're all gone."
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