INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A four-hoofed member of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s mounted patrol unit is facing surgery Wednesday for skin cancer, his third go round with the disease. Jake the horse’s expected surgery costs of around $2,000 at Purdue Large Animal Hospital exceeds the unit’s veterinary budget.
“Unfortunately, my city budget vet care is only a certain amount of money that covers preventative care, plus minor injuries,” said unit commander, Sgt. Allan Whitesell. “So, this being a recurring theme with him and a little bit more in-depth process, I don’t have it in my city budget.”
Now, Jake’s fellow officers are asking the public for donations.
Jake is a 13-year-old Percheron – Appaloosa cross and has been with the mounted patrol since he was 2. “He’s an integral part of what the unit does, so there never was any thought of not doing what they could to help him in his battle, all in the hope he can be back on patrol soon,” Whitesell said.
This is Jake’s third battle with cancer. The first was about five years ago, but it came back last year. Laser treatments and topical medicine seemed to work for a time but now, vets say removal of the affected area is needed.
“We need to do this and to try to get it done as soon as possible, so we started the ball rolling,” said Whitesell.
Vets believe Jake will be fine.
“A huge success rate for this type of surgery so we’re just hoping,” said Officer Jason Palumbo, Jake’s partner. “Only concern is we have is if it is already up into his lymph nodes they said that could be a problem. But we’re hoping it’s not there yet and he’ll be fine and hopefully back on the street in another month or so.”
Palumbo said he was a little emotional taking Jake to Purdue.
“I look at him as kind of a kid ya’ know because we have been partners for 11 years,” he said. “I know what he’s gonna do before he does and he probably knows what I’m going to do before I do and it’s a little sad but I rest assured knowing that the doctor has complete confidence.”
There is confidence that Jake will soon be back out on patrol and helping to not only keep the city safe, but put a smile on faces.
“We are a great public relations tool; us on horseback takes away the barrier of a police car,” said Whitesell. “So everybody, no matter what part of town we’re in all the citizens come up, kids especially, come up, talk to us and love on the horses.”
Jake is expected to stay at Purdue for five to seven days before coming back to Indianapolis to continue his recovery. It’s expected he could be off-duty for up to six weeks.
As of Wednesday morning, Jake had raised $3345 in donations.
Any extra money raised over and above surgery costs will go toward the purchase of one, if not two, new patrol horses. One of the unit’s horses Fred, died last November. Another is set to retire soon.