Beloved Vancouver police horse Pico passes away
VANCOUVER -- After nearly two decades of service with officers and children in the saddle, Pico, a veteran Vancouver police horse, died on Sunday.
Known for his calm and reliable nature, Pico joined the mounted squad in 1993, when officers quickly took a shine to the chestnut gelding with the signature white stripe down his muzzle.
“He was one of the best horses that they ever had,” said the mounted unit’s Sgt. Doug McMillan.
McMillan said Pico, a Dutch Warmblood, went to nearly every major city event during his tenure.
He kept order at an anti-Bush rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2004. He had a background role in the 2003 John Woo action movie Paycheck, alongside Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman.
Pico frequently took part in park patrols, Santa Clause parades, Remembrance Day services and the Celebration of Light.
“He was a pretty busy horse,” said McMillan.
Fittingly, Pico’s final shift was during the 100th anniversary celebration of the force’s mounted unit in May 2006.
He retired that year, “a favourite of the squad and the public,” said Sgt. Randy Fincham.
Pico spent the next five years as a therapeutic horse at a riding camp in Southlands, where he offered young children companionship and confidence on a steed.
In the summer of 2011, Pico suffered a fall. He returned to the Vancouver police stables to live out his retirement.
On Oct. 21, a veterinarian determined it was time for Pico to go, marking the first time in decades a horse was put down in the care of Vancouver police. Typically, retired horses live out their lives at private farms or the properties of retired police officers, McMillan said.
Pico was 30 years old.
“The members of the mounted unit, both past and present, owe a great debt of gratitude to (Police Horse) Pico and we can all take comfort in the fact that he enjoyed his last year living the life of leisure amongst his friends and that he passed peacefully, without pain,” McMillan said.
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