Facts, once again, appear to be stranger than fiction.

You might remember, or you might have heard about, the 1969 movie entitled “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” It was a pretty big hit, starring Jane Fonda and a number of additional Hollywood notables, including Michael Sarrazin, Gig Young, and others. It produced nine Academy Award nominations, and two winners (Fonda and Young). The title originated in a 1935 novel written by Horace McCoy. It has come to stand for the proposition that sometimes you need to be cruel in order to be kind. All of which, not surprisingly, has little to do with a recent event reported out of Arizona.

Police say they were on mounted patrol in Tempe. It was a crowded weekend night on Mill Avenue, when one of the officers, along with his trusty steed Blitz, entered the fray to break up a fight. Next, the cops say, things got weird. Instead of dealing with revelers trying to smack each other, someone decided to take a punch at the officer’s horse – in its rear end, to be precise. Hey, this isn’t your typical violent crime, and not even the horse suffered an injury. Nevertheless, nothing will stick in a mountie’s craw more than when a person throws a punch at his horse.

So the man accused of the act was arrested and search, and the police say they found marijuana. He is now charged with possession and, of course, harming a working or service animal. The specifics of the “animal cruelty” charge were not detailed in the report we read, but it could be a class 6 felony offense. By the way, the suspect claims that neither the marijuana allegedly found in his pants, nor the pants themselves, were his. No mention was made of the grounds for any defense to smacking Blitz.

This all sounds a bit bizarre to us, but law enforcement officials say that it is not unusual for their horses to be subjected to what they call “unwanted advances.” Strange things happen in crowds, don’t you see!

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