Deaf horse on HPD's patrol team buoyed by support of special needs girls

HOUSTON When the ranks of the Houston Police Department's mounted patrol came parading two-by-two Wednesday morning, there was a new face among them, Smash. Smash is a 9-year-old paint gelding, who officially became one of HPD's four-legged patrol on Wednesday. And even though Smash is a rookie, he's already got a fan club.

"I asked Katherine, 'Why Smash?' Katherine said, 'Because he has special needs like me,'" said HPD Officer Jeff Harris, the human officer partnered up with Smash.

A group of young women lost their hearts to the horse the moment they found out he is deaf.

"Even though Smash is hearing impaired, he has already proven to be an outstanding patrol horse. We too have special needs and we know that every goal can be reached," said Christi Roberts, a Team Smash sponsor.

Not only did the young women spend every spare moment at the mounted patrol barn with Smash, they decided to sponsor him by raising money.

"And I mean a lot of money, so we had some fundraisers. And now we would like to present the Houston Police Foundation with a check," said Katherine Richards, a Team Smash sponsor.

They raised $10,000, which was enough to cover the cost of Smash's care for the next two years.

"He can do anything that we can because we are special needs girls," Team Smash sponsor Meg Norman said.

Harris says Smash's deafness may actually be a strength in the often noisy and sometimes chaotic job police horses do.

"Hustle and bustle of the city life and then doing the kind of crowd control work, anything like that, it's actually kind of an asset," he said.

On Wednesday, it seemed Smash was more interested in nudging for treats than in catching bad guys. But thanks to the help of his fans, this rookie officer has plenty of time to help keep the peace on the streets of Houston.

Smash was born in Illinois nine years and then was sent to Oklahoma in February before being donated to HPD.

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