NOKOMIS, FL - After 17 years serving the community, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office is saying goodbye. Her name is "Special" a 23 year old thoroughbred from the mounted patrol unit. A horse deputies say has earned her retirement.
In the barn they are sharing stories and remembering the good times. One last apple while saying goodbye. "It's a day we have all been dreading but we knew would come." Sgt. Chris Laster says something called Lymphangitus keeps causing her left leg to swell. "It would sometime effect her function but we've been able to manage it up to this point."
This horse has seen her last patrol. "She has been such a faithful servant and just about every new rider that has come into the mounted patrol unit since 1996 this was their first mount because of her tolerance for new riders."
"Probably the best partner I have ever had with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office." Deputy Ray Vleck was her partner for eight years. "You build that comfort zone and that bond that is just unbelievable."
Standing tall together at local events at area beaches and malls all the way up to the Super Bowl and college football games. Her last large event was the Republican National Convention in Tampa last year. Vleck even remembers when the Presidents came to town on 9/11 2001. "During his visit to the school I was on her. She was able to be apart of history."
Cheryl Buchanan comes to say goodbye on Friday. She donated the former racing horse to the sheriff's office when the thoroughbred was only five. "I see an animal that has been used to her greatest potential. She has done a terrific service for our country."
While her days on the beat may be over Special has something to look forward to. She will traveling up I-75 to a well deserved retirement home for horses. "To see her go to a nice place in north Florida. She is going to spend her years up there eating fresh green grass on the rolling hills and lots of sunsets," says Vleck.
Special will be making her way to Mill Creek Farm in Alachua County. The not for profit taking in retired law enforcement horses.