Pennsylvania State Police are looking for a donation of a different sort this summer — one that gallops and neighs.
State police spokesman Adam Reed said the mounted patrol receives its horses differently than how the K-9 unit obtains its dogs.
“Whenever we have a new dog, we receive them out of training," he said, "but with horses, we rely on donations just as a cost effective means."
In April, Pittsburgh Police bought four German Shepard puppies for $7,000 apiece from a kennel in Mercer County.
They were then trained in a canine version of the city’s police academy and accepted as police dogs.
Pre-trained dogs cost between $15,000 and $25,000.
However, Reed said their horses undergo an extensive training period with members of the mounted unit after they are accepted.
“During this training phase, they learn crowd control maneuvers, they learn to get comfortable around loud noises, fireworks for example, and large crowds of people,” Reed said.
Horses have been a part of the Pennsylvania State Police since 1905, and they still serve a practical use.
“We use our mounted unit for a number of different things, crowd control, we take them to concerts, search and rescues, different things like that,” Reed said.
The police are looking for horses between 5- and 15-years-old and at least 16 hands — or 5-foot-4 inches — tall at the shoulder, but they can’t be more than 18 hands, or 6 foot.
Reed said thoroughbreds are actually not preferred for duty. The patrol wants draft and draft-crosses because they are bigger and sturdier.
The horses will stay in Hershey if accepted and are offered back to their owners when they retire.
“We’ve had some horses there for ten, 15 years, so they are really reliable animals and our troopers enjoy using them,” Reed said.