Letter to the Editor

By Andrew Antaya, Hampton Falls, NH

Hampton Union, Tuesday, April 13, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

To the Editor:

It deeply saddens me to see that two of Hampton’s finest police officers, the Tennessee walking horses, Butch and Arrow, are going to put up for adoption. Butch and Arrow have served the Hampton police force for many years and are now going to be cast aside like an obsolete piece of farm equipment.

Having grown up around horses since I was a little boy and having worked on a 30-horse farm for several summers, I know that adoption of horses is not at all what it’s cracked up to be. Often horses can be traumatized by switching owners and being transferred to a different herd. A horse that was at the top of the pecking order in his herd can have significant difficulties adjusting to a new, different herd. Horses are very much social animals, and require social structure to be happy.

While adoption is always a better option for horses than euthanasia, I strongly urge the decision makers in Hampton to reconsider their position about having Butch and Arrow put up for adoption. When a Hampton police officer retires he/she gets a salary pension. Why should police officers Butch and Arrow not get their own form of compensation for the years they served the Hampton Police Department?

Also, the Hampton Police Department will be less able to perform riot suppression duties without the aid of police officers Butch and Arrow. Joe Jones, president of the Hampton Police Association, said “there is no better tool for crowd control than a horse.” Riot suppression is a valuable service to the community. No one wants a repeat of Hampton Beach’s nefarious 1964 riots.

Furthermore, the police horses of Hampton Beach were a major tourist attraction. One can safely say that much of Hampton Beach’s economy is built upon tourism dollars. Take away those vital tourism dollars and many Hampton citizens would be out of work. Removing the mounted police unit would not be an economically smart thing to do.

Perhaps instead of putting Butch and Arrow up for adoption, we should consider the alternatives. Reinstate Butch and Arrow into a reformed mounted police unit. Restore the mounted police unit to its full strength of four horses. The new unit would be aesthetically pleasing to tourists and riot suppression would be more effective. Alternatively, give Butch and Arrow a retirement that decorated police officers deserve. Give Butch and Arrow green pastures, delicious grain, and pretty mares to stare at all day. Police officers of their caliber and years of service deserve nothing less.