PUNGO — A horse named Dutchess in October joined the Virginia Beach Police Mounted Patrol, an arrival made possible through a donation by longtime supporter Jim Custer.
Dutchess, a brown Clydesdale who started off her city service on the skinny side, would eventually deliver a summer surprise.
She became the partner of Officer John Jordan, and she’s been a steady, reliable addition since, according to the department. The patrol’s home is at a complex near “downtown” Pungo. Most folks call it the barn.
Police tried to fatten her up while she trained and became a member of the unit.
“Unbeknownst to us,” the department noted in a statement, “she was eating for two.”
Indeed, nobody knew Dutchess was pregnant, not when she arrived, not for some time thereafter, not until shortly before the birth. Early on a Friday morning in late June, a filly started coming. Animal caretakers helped Dutchess through what was described as an easy delivery.
Jordan said he had a weird feeling the night before the birth, but overall?
“It’s never happened before,” said Sgt. Mary Jo Crooke, who supervises the unit.
The new horse is named Lady Justice.
Police announced her birth in early July, and then they kept the barn closed to visitors for a while so Lady could spend time with her mother and avoid germs. On Thursday, Aug. 2, the unit opened the barn up to the public so people could meet Lady Justice, who was bright, alert and playful.
She made more than a few new fans.
“Oh, we love her,” said Melissa Lambert, who came to see Lady Justice with her daughter, Madison Butcher, 7.
“I like how she’s cute and fluffy,” Butcher noted.
Lady Justice’s days as a police mount are well down the road, but she’s already a bit of sensory training, Jordan said.
The real training kicks in later, of course.
“The plan right now is we’ll be keeping mom and baby together,” he said.
Among her attributes, Lady has striking blue eyes.
They are reminiscent to members of the patrol of Disney, a Clydesdale cross horse who died last year after falling ill on duty at the Oceanfront.
“This is like a blessing to us,” Crooke said.
“She’ll probably be the best police horse we’ve ever had because we’re going to train her from the ground up,” the sergeant added.
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