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Councillors back police plan to protect horses from abuse

Abuse of any kind will mean a fine under new bylaw. The fines targets drunken abuse from people in the Hess Village entertainment district.

Vote next week will make it illegal to touch, throw bottles at or harass police horses

Private Const. Preston Gabriele and Lincoln, an eight-year-old Percheron, patrol downtown Hamilton. City hall just voted to slap a $250 fine on anyone who touches, harasses, taunts or otherwise interferes with a police horse or dog. (Sunnie Huang/CBC)

Councillors have wholeheartedly endorsed a police request help protect their horses from drunken abuse.

A council vote next week will make it illegal to touch, throw bottles at, harass or otherwise taunt a police horse.

The city’s planning committee voted Tuesday to slap a $250 fine on anyone who interferes with a police dog or horse. It’s particularly an issue in Hess Village, where drunk patrons mess with the horses to irritate police or impress their friends, said Sgt. Brad Adams of Hamilton Police Service.

City council will make a final vote on June 25. That means police can lay tickets for anyone who hits, startles, harasses, touches, fees or taunts a police animal.

Failing to control your pet from attacking a police animal also counts.

Councillors almost made the fine $1,000, saying $250 was too low.

“A $250 fine for hitting a horse, some of these idiots would think it’s the cost of entertainment,” said Coun. Brad Clark of Ward 9.

Some of the offending partiers “spend more than $250 on drinks in a night.”

Once a few tickets are issued, word will spread and people will comply, said Adams, who leads the police service’s mounted patrol unit.

For example, Hess Village used to have a challenge of people urinating in public places. But since police issued some tickets, people either don’t do it or are more discreet about it.

The fine for touching a police horse will be similar, he said.

“It’ll get out there quite quickly.”

If convicted, the person can face a fine of up to $10,000 for first conviction and $25,000 for subsequent convictions.

In the U.S. assaulting a police animal has the same consequences as assaulting a police officer.

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