The two newest hires at the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office in Greenville, North Carolina already wouldn’t mind being put out to pasture. That’s because deputies Gunner and Sammy aren’t like the other members of the force—not by a long shot. They’re miniature horses, thank you very much, and on Thursday, these noble steeds joined the sheriff’s office as therapy animals.
Gunner and Sammy, who themselves were rescued by Rocking Horse Ranch from a painful situation, have been saddled with the important job of helping trauma victims heal, The Dodo reports. “A miniature horse is so incredibly approachable,” Malaika Albrecht, the executive director of Rocking Horse Ranch, told The Dodo. “We know that stress and blood pressure lowers when people come in contact with therapy animals. With a mini horse, there’s none of that fear you might get from a 1,000-pound horse.”
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Lieutenant Kip Gaskins and Carla Hart, a volunteer coordinator at the sheriff’s office, came up with the idea of adding therapy horses to the force when they saw Gunner and Sammy volunteering at a local nursing home. They told The Dodo they realized how much the traumatized people they work with every day could benefit from forming relationships with animals. And so the Building Bridges program was born. “The minis are kind of our bridge,” Albrecht explained of the name. “They are building bridges between people, between people and animals.”
Local news reporter Katie Harden from WNCT seems to have nabbed an exclusive in this photo.
The program will transport people overcoming trauma to Rocking Horse Ranch so they can spend time with officers Gunner and Sammy. There, participants will learn how to lead and groom the mini horses.
"My hope is that Sammy and Gunner, who were rescued from sadness and trauma, will touch the lives of others who are also suffering," Hart told The Dodo.
To find out more about Rocking Horse Ranch and to donate to the program, visit RHRNC.com