Pleasants County teen donates horse to Columbus Division of Police

Photo Provided Ben Wagstaff, 13, of Pleasants County donated his horse Sam to the Columbus Division of Police on Tuesday.

WILLOW ISLAND — Sam, a former Pleasants County resident, is now a member of the Columbus Division of Police.

Sam, a Percheron horse who will be 4 years old in June, has joined the Columbus Police’s Mounted Unit.

Tuesday morning, members of the Columbus police department placed Sam in the department’s trailer at the Wagstaff family’s farm in Pleasants County and drove him to Ohio’s capital city for police training and then duty.

It was a tearful experience to see Sam leave the Willow Island farm, said Jesse Owens-Wagstaff.

Her son Ben Wagstaff, 13, wanted to donate Sam to the police department so the horse could live up to his potential, Owens-Wagstaff said.

Photo provided by Columbus Police Columbus Police Officer Jimmy Gravett holds the police division’s horse Legend, while Ben Wagstaff holds Sam on the family farm in Pleasants County.

“It was Ben’s idea. He wanted Sam to do something,” Owens-Wagstaff said. “We are all happy when we have a purpose.”

Ben, a 4-H member, believes in the importance of community service, his mother said.

Ben wants to be a police officer someday.

“We were honored that Ben would choose Columbus Police to donate his horse. It’s a selfless act and from a 13-year-old boy who wants to become a police officer and that makes it so much more special,” said Sgt. Bob Forsythe of CPD’s Mounted Unit.

“Ben knows he can visit anytime he’d like. He’s now part of our family just like Sam,” Forsythe said.

Photo provided by Columbus Police Columbus Police Officer Jon Shoopman assists getting Sam into the police trailer for the trip to Columbus.

The Wagstaffs visited the Columbus Division of Police’s facility for the Mounted Unit.

“Sam will get excellent attention,” Owens-Wagstaff said. The department’s horses are kept in a quiet part of the city, she said.

The police department wanted to make sure that Ben, a seventh-grader at Pleasants County Middle School, was comfortable with his decision to donate Sam to the Columbus unit.

The police department had previously visited the Wagstaff farm to meet with the family and Sam.

The police department said Sam had a great demeanor and size for participating in Mounted Unit police activities, Owens-Wagstaff said.

Columbus Division of Police uses the horses for crowd control, at parades, and for mutual aid with law enforcement agencies in other areas, said Denise Alex-Bouzounis, spokesperson for Columbus Division of Police.

Columbus Police have 11 horses of various breeds. Some are donated and some are purchased.

It was unusual for the police department to be offered a horse free of charge, said Alex-Bouzounis, a former anchor-reporter at WTAP in Parkersburg.

“Draft horses are good (for Mounted Unit police work). They are good with people and hard to shove around,” Owens-Wagstaff said.

The Mounted Unit maintains a barn, training facility and pasture for its stable of horses 10 minutes from downtown Columbus, Alex-Bouzounis said. Sam will be trained for 6-12 months before going out on police duty.

Sam, a breed of draft horse, is one of the Mounted Unit’s largest horses.

In a special agreement with the family, if Sam does not have the temperament to be a police horse, the Columbus Division of Police will return him to the Wagstaff farm. Sam also can return to the Wagstaffs when he retires from the police force.

Early indications are that Sam will have no problem adjusting to his new surroundings, Alex-Bouzounis said. He seemed in good spirits on Wednesday in Columbus.

A Palomino quarter horse on the Wagstaff farm might be unhappy that Sam has moved to Columbus, said Owens-Wagstaff. Plans call for another horse to be brought to the farm to keep the Palomino company.

A miniature goat enjoyed hanging around Sam on the farm.

Sam was bred on a farm owned by Roger and Mary Jones of Williamstown. He was born at the Wagstaff farm on June 4, 2015. The Wagstaff family slept in their barn for three days while waiting for Sam’s birth.

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