Police set to auction horses in cost-cutting move

Seven highly trained San Diego police horses were expected to go on sale Monday in an online auction designed to help raise money for the cash-strapped city.

Wam, Trigger, Major, Junior, Bret, Bandit and Austin, who have been used to patrol Balboa Park, will be sold along with their tack, according to the San Diego Police Department, which is disbanding its horse unit. The horses range in age from 9 to 12.

Selling the horses is expected to save the city about $243,000 annually in upkeep, San Diego police Assistant Chief Bob Kanaski told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Starting bids for the horses, which are accustomed to crowds, traffic and loud noises, are expected to be $500 to $1,500, according to the newspaper.

About a third of the department’s dogs are also being laid off as a result of mid-year budget cuts approved by the City Council. But unlike the horses, police dogs cannot be sold to the public because of their specialized training.

Seven dogs recently went home with their handlers, three went to other law enforcement agencies and two were sent back to their vendors, Kanaski told the Union-Tribune.

In December, the council approved a proposal by Mayor Jerry Sanders to lay off about 200 city workers, cut library hours and end or scale back some public-safety programs.

No sworn officers will be laid off as a result of the cuts, but 81 civilian workers within the police department are being laid off, according to the Union-Tribune.

The horse auction is set for today through Feb 10 on the Web site Potential buyers can see the horses at the police stables from 9 a.m. until noon on Thursday.