OCEAN COUNTY – The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department had to say goodbye to one of their own, with the passing of Sambuca, the horse that accompanied them on many outings.
Sambuca, 20, could be seen at the Ocean County Fair, Berkeley Pride Day, the Polar Bear Plunge, or many other places where the sheriff’s department has a presence.
Sheriff’s Officer Brian Stockhoff, her owner, said that her appearances attracted children and families, helping to form a connection between the police and the public. She was a memorable figure at parades and other events.
In a more official capacity, she participated in a drill searching for a lost person, Stockhoff said. The Explorer Post, made up of local young cadets interested in a career in law enforcement, also spent some time with her.
“She was a rare horse,” he said of her being comfortable surrounded by 20-30 kids. “She loved it. She loved the attention.”
Her life was cut short, she could have lived another 10 years, by complications after a vet found lesions around the small intestines, he said.
“It was a shock to all of us,” he said. “I fed her that morning, and she was fine. She took a turn for the worst and she died the next morning.”
Her indoctrination into the Sheriff’s Office started as almost a joke. Newly minted Sheriff Michael Mastronardy was asking officers for new ideas in 2014, and Stockhoff offered the idea of a mounted unit.
“Where would we get a horse from?” Mastronardy asked.
“I have one,” Stockhoff replied.
And from there, more and more ideas came where Sambuca could be used.
The family is looking to buying another horse, but they have to find one that meshes well with the family and the other horses, Stockhoff said.
“It’s been an amazing adventure so far and there will definitely be a number two,” he said.