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Deaf Horse Serves Police

June 21, 2007

While John Loope rides hisstablemate, Snoopy, proves that deaf horses can do anything.

Hi Ho Snoopy!

When police officer Loope walks into the barn, all of the horses stir-except for Snoopy. Snoopy is one of the newest horses in the Roanoke City Police Department in Roanoke, Virginia. He is an American Paint, with brown pointed ears and a brown “cap” on his white head.

Snoopy is four years old. He is registered as “Mister Apache Paint” and performs in horse shows as “Ghost Dancer.” But most people just call him “Snoopy” because of his Beagle markings. He was donated to the police department because he is deaf-or perhaps hard of hearing.

“We noticed that he seemed to startle from his left side,” said Office John Loope, who is Snoopy’s main rider. “We called the family, and the family said that he may have a little hearing in his left ear.”

Loope believes the hearing is very faint because, when he enters the barn, the other horses know he’s there. Snoopy doesn’t know people have arrived until he can see or smell them. “He keeps hanging his head out of the door,” said Loope.

Snoopy has a “deaf voice,” too, he said. While other horses whinny and neigh, Snoopy “kind of woofs,” said Loope.

“It almost sounds like hard breathing,” he said. “But you can tell he wants to communicate.”

So far, Snoopy’s communication has been masterful.

He has been written about in the Roanoke newspaper and in horse magazines. Everyone knows him. When Loope goes to town, everyone wants to know where Snoopy is. At first, Loope was a little worried about Snoopy joining the police department. Loope wasn’t worried about Snoopy’s deafness, but his age. Snoopy is still young. “We’ve never had a horse be able to stay in the department who was under five years old,” said Loope.

But so far, Snoopy’s “doing just fine,” he said. He has made his way through several steps of training and made several excursions into the city with a police officer on his back. Loope has been a member of the Roanoke police for 22 years, he said. Horses joined the department in 1993. Now there are 14 horses, including Snoopy, two full-time mounted officers, and three alternative riders, he said. He believes the horses are very effective in helping police fight crime. Seated on a horse, a police officer looks over cars and people, he pointed out. Loope has even had horses that helped him spot problems in the parks. Loope is optimistic about Snoopy’s success.

“The Indians called this kind of horse a spirit horse,” said Loope. “They believed that American Paints would keep them safe in battle.”

He thinks that Snoopy’s deafness may be a plus. City noises sometimes make hearing horses jumpy and nervous. He is not sure what will happen when a horse experiences the city through vision.

“We have high hopes,” Loope told newspaper reporters.

General comments may be sent to: Ken.Kurlychek@gallaudet.edu
Last modified May 21, 1998
Copyright © 1997, All Rights Reserved
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center

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  1. mother goose
    June 21, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    I’d love to meet Snoopy! All my children loved having a deaf dog and had a lot of fun with him. He watched other dogs barking, he barked but no voice. I am sure that they would want to meet the deaf horse!

  2. M
    June 21, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Really enjoyed this unique story about the deaf police horse! Too bad deaf individuals couldn’t be police officers, sigh…

  3. Heidi
    June 22, 2007 at 5:10 am

    very touching story

  4. fireprizm
    June 24, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Yes, Hedi.. it is very touching story. This story was posted on March-April 1998 on the website of http://clerccenter.gallaudet.edu/worldaroundyou/mar-apr98/snoopy.html, so that means Snoopy is now about 13 years old. I wonder if Snoopy is still serving for Roanoke City Police Department in Roanoke, Virginia? It would be interesting to find out.

  5. Krissy Kays
    September 28, 2007 at 6:19 am

    AWW what a touchy!! Hey, I have a good friend, Sandra who recently adopted Savanah, a Deaf 2 yrs old filly. She looks like Snoopy!! I dunno how deaf Savanah is. I certainly will pass this wonderful moving touchy article to her if she hasn’t researched about Deaf horses. Me too, Fireprizm, I’m wondering how Snoopy is doing. I’ll deffie want to find him and his stablemate, John Loope. I don’t live far from Roanoke, VA. Cool… I can find out through a friend’s father who work as a cop in VA. Cross fingers…

  6. Pat
    January 1, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Just now found this story. I see Officer Loop around town on a brown horse but not sure if it’s Snoopy.
    Very interesting to read about this.
    Pat

  7. Cinde
    June 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    We just had a grullo piebald filly born that looks the same and we think she is deaf too! She has sky blue eyes as well!

  8. Susan Hasheminejad
    May 18, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Hello!

    Snoopy is doing well. He was donated back to us (the ones that donated him to Roanoke City) and he is living in Riner, VA with good friends of ours. He is living the simple life, doing a little dressage riding, has a Paint girlfriend named Sophie, and generally doing what he pleases! Glad to hear someone has asked about him!

  9. Anonymous
    June 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    the hoese are deaf or not deaf what ???????????????????????

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