Every now and then Hair Balls likes to stretch our legs and get some exercise. While running through Buffalo Bayou Park, we frequently encounter mounted police officers and, oftentimes, their horses’ manure. It made us wonder: Who is responsible for cleaning this (shit) up?
The answer: well, nobody.
The horses are exempt from that law,” HPD’s Randall Wallace tells Hair Balls, referencing regulations regarding dog owners and their doggy’s doo-doo. “In the parks, the manure is decomposed naturally by the sun and it becomes a natural fertilizer for the grass. In regards to manure in the streets downtown, the manure is broken up and spread by vehicular traffic and decomposed by the sun. However, in the event a horse defecates in a crosswalk or other pedestrian area, the officer dismounts and removes the manure from the pedestrian area with his boot by kicking it to the curbline. ... It is impractical and unsafe for an officer to try to clean it up in the street, so we rely on vehicular traffic, car tires.”
Yeah, but isn’t the same true for dog poop? Okay, granted there are more dogs in the city than HPD horses (there are under 100). And the horses aren't always pooping in the grass and on the sidewalk -- unlike that mutt that lives next door to us.
Wallace says he understands this might frustrate citizens and he agrees with them.
“The citizen is correct in their assertion that everyone has the duty to be socially responsible, especially the police. If there is anyone that should be doing the right thing, following the rules, and setting a good example, it's the police,” he says.
Every officer – even though it is not the law – is told to dismount their horse and kick manure out of pedestrian walkways, but sometimes, Wallace says, it doesn’t get done.
“There are several reasons that it doesn't always get kicked out of the way, other than officers just being negligent, but regardless, it should be done and I do not make excuses for my officers. They know better. Every time there is a complaint, I remind them AGAIN.” (Sorry, HPD mounties, but we’re guessing your next reminder is going to be a la our complaint.)
In regards to manure bags, like what the carriage horses wear, Wallace says they actually cause discomfort for the HPD horses because they have be worn for longer periods of time.
“The carriage horses you see wearing the bags only have to wear them for a couple of hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Our horses would have to wear them for an extended period (approximately eight hours per day, five days a week), which is very uncomfortable for the horses,” he says and adds there is also a risk of infection and sores caused by the bags chaffing the horses, well, ass.
There you have it, straight from the horse officer’s mouth.
— Dusti Rhodes
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