When Sgt. Lacey Polderdyke of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Division learned that Doc, a 26-year-old Tennessee Walker who had served on the force for many years, had passed away, but there was no official resting place for the gelding, she jumped into action. According to the Detroit Free Press, Doc was retired but the officer who had ridden him for much of his career, Sgt. Lee Eric Smith, had been killed while on duty in 2018. During his funeral, Doc was taken out of retirement to take part in the ceremony. Smith and Doc’s bond was so strong, some of his horsehair was placed in the officer’s coffin. But when Doc passed away in 2021, there weren’t any official plans for his remains.

Polderdyke knew she could have the remains of Doc and other service horses cremated, but they still needed to a place to be interred. So she approached Phil Weitlauf, president and director of the Michigan War Dog Memorial (MWDM). Other officers whose horses had passed also asked Weitlauf about including horses in this special cemetery. He got the board to agree.

“One of the reasons we set up the memorial is because the government won’t take care of the military dogs when they pass away,” Weitlauf told the Detroit Free Press. “We found the state and county won’t take care of their mounted horses when they die either. We should honor them the same way we honor the canines.”

The first horses will have their ashes buried in the fall and will include Doc and two others from the same unit, Touch Up and Denver. And like the service dogs, there will be a ceremony for the riders to attend, a team of eight “salute” horses, as well as a memorial wall with photo etchings of the horses in action.