HPD horses retire to green pastures of Big Isle


POSTED: Thursday, February 18, 2010

The four-legged partners of the Honolulu Police Department's Mounted Patrol Unit have a new home.

The seven horses that helped police officers protect the city will be transferred to Keawewai Ranch on the Big Island. Ranch owner Chandi Duke Heffner has agreed to house the horses, treat them with tender loving care, and allow representatives from HPD to visit their equine friends—Chief Lee, Cruiser, Scout, Kuhio, Trooper, Justice and Cinbad.

“;We've been working very hard over the past several months to come up with a creative solution that will provide a suitable and healthy environment for the horses,”; Mayor Mufi Hannemann said. “;We are especially glad that the horses will be able to remain together and enjoy a well-deserved retirement after serving the department and the community so well for many years.”;

After about nine years of service, the Mounted Patrol Unit was dismantled in July 2008 due to the high cost of caring for the animals. A plan to auction off the horses—deemed “;property”; by HPD—drew fire from animal lovers in Hawaii.

Julie Goodnight, who helped train the horses and police officers in the Mounted Patrol Unit, wrote on her blog that the horses and officers conducted crowd control by keeping protesters in line. They also did community service and ceremonial work, and were recognized and appreciated by the community during their tenure.

“;Police horses are incredibly courageous and trusting—willing to walk into a 200-person drunken brawl—strictly on the assurance from the rider that it will be OK,”; Goodnight wrote when she discovered the unit would be disbanded. She found the notion of auctioning off the animals to the highest bidder “;appalling.”;

Now, horse lovers can take comfort that the animals will remain together in relative comfort on Heffner's ranch.

Heffner is a former Hare Krishna follower who in the 1980s was adopted in her mid-30s by tobacco heiress Doris Duke. The heiress purchased the ranch for Heffner.

The relationship between the two women later disintegrated, and, before her death in 1993, Duke reportedly nullified the adoption and Heffner's proposed inheritance. Heffner challenged the will, but dropped the suit after reaching a $65 million settlement.