FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A unique, but important veteran of the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is hanging up his saddle. Eli, the German Warmblood, is a Mounted Patrol officer who is retiring after ten years with the department.

Eli is 22 years old and his days on the job are coming to end.

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“Eli gets to go to what I call Disneyland for horses,” said partner Officer Kara Kuras from the Fort Lauderdale Police Mounted Patrol.

“It is a few hundred acres with 120 rescued horses plus or minus. He never has to have a saddle on his again, he gets to relax. He gets to live his best life,” she said with a smile.

Officer Kuras and Eli worked together for 4 years.

“He’s instrumental because he’s so tall, even when we’re out in a large crowd we can look over and see who’s causing problems, who’s not and really police and do it effectively because we’re on horseback,” she explained.

Mounted patrol units are often seen in parades or patrolling the beach, but these animals do a lot more than appear in photo ops. They are working members of the force.  They train with officers and are an integral part of the department.

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“Eli is our lead horse during protests and riots and last year, on May 31, I rode him downtown. There were fireworks being shot off at us, people throwing things. He has no problem moving forward and being the lead horse. He’s always the bravest one in the group,” she said.

Watching him roll around on his back, it’s clear Eli has a fun, disarming side. He can calm people even in their darkest moments.

“Horses have a really healing energy. They really help distract people from something traumatic that may be going on,” Officer Kuras said.

Now, it’s Eli’s moment to run and relax after a job well done.

“He is one of a kind, truly the best,” Kuras said. “I am so incredibly happy that he gets to retire. He is 22 years old. He’s given us ten great years of service. He deserves it. I will be very sad to drop him off but so happy that he gets to go.”

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Eli will be heading into retirement next week at the Retirement Home for Horses at Mill Creek Farms in Alachua, near Gainesville. He will join 3 other horses from Fort Lauderdale’s Mounted Patrol.  The horse retirement home is a non-profit. If you would like to sponsor Eli or any other horse, click here.

Ted Scouten