FELL TOWNSHIP, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — It’s becoming increasingly rare for law enforcement agencies to use horses on patrol. Now, Lackawanna County’s Sheriff’s Office is disbanding its mounted unit.
It takes dedication to care for the horses. From training for law enforcement, feeding, cleaning and travel as well. They are cared for in Fell Township on county-owned property at Merli-Sarnoski Park.
As far as training goes, the horses will continue to be trained, just not for law enforcement purposes.
For more than a decade, horses in the county’s Stable Program have had two purposes in life: one with officers and one with children.
The Stable Program starts up Monday where more than 60 children, ages five to 18-years-old, will spend a week interacting with the horses.
“The horses train to know the difference between police work and the work with the kids. So, it was very unique for them,” said Dawn Davis, caseworker at Lackawanna County Office of Youth and Family Services.
Davis and other workers tend to the horses every day, but now the sworn in deputies will no longer train and serve in law enforcement.
“There is certain criteria that goes with riding a horse in a law enforcement capacity and we only had one rider that met that criteria and that was not going to cut it.”
Sheriff Mark McAndrew made the decision Monday to disband the office’s horse mounted unit, for lack of manpower.
“Invalueable asset to the office. For riot situations, crowd control, concerts… So there is a lot of time a lot of effort that goes into this mounted unit,” said Sheriff McAndrew.
The office believes the unit’s history goes back about two decades.
When Carbondale disbanded it’s horse unit at that time prompting Lackawanna County to start its mounted unit.
The two draft cross mixes and two standard breed horses will have less of a work load, but have the same impact on at-risk children.
“We’ve had a number of kids that had a really hard time communicating with adults or their caseworker in general and didn’t really have any kind of peer relationship and by the time they leave here I’m getting reports from the case workers that they are a totally different kid,” said Davis.