COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A horse with the Columbus Police Mounted Unit has died after veterinarians found a tumor wrapped around his colon.
“I think I rode Willie one time since I’ve been with the unit,” said Sgt. Robert Forsythe, supervisor of CPD’s Mounted Unit. “It affects me as if he was one of my own. All of the horses that we have, each officer that’s assigned to the mounted unit feels the same way.”
Officer Willie, a 24-year-old Saddlebred was showing signs of colic last week, according to Columbus police. His partner of 10 years, Officer John Shoopman took him to The Ohio State University’s Veterinary Medical Center for an exploratory surgery.
Veterinarians found a large tumor wrapped around Willie’s colon. It was removed, but CPD said he took a turn for the worse Wednesday.
“Colic is the, from the emergency side, is the number one complication I see horses come in for,” said OSU veterinarian Dr. Eric Schroeder. “Willie, unfortunately, has had several set backs, while in the hospital.”
Dr. Schroeder said Willie was given a 50% chance of long-term survival after the surgery.
“He is the strongest horse that we have had at the barn,” said Sgt. Forsythe. “If we have issues with some of the other horses, Willie will always pull them through. Everybody on the street knows Willie. When we’re out patrolling, they ask for Willie.”
Willie was with CPD for 11 years.
“Willie was supposed to retire last year. He was supposed to be out in the pasture being a horse,” said Sgt. Forsythe. “We got notified through the Republican Convention…We got assigned to work that and we needed a strong horse and we ended up putting off Willie’s retirement so he could go up to the RNC in Cleveland.”
Today, he was surrounded and comforted by CPD officers at the hospital.
“It’s kind of hard on everybody,” said Sgt. Forsythe. “We’re around those guys constantly, everyday. You build that bond with them.”
According to a Facebook post from Columbus police, “Willie is out of service: 6:20pm.”