A touching photo of a Houston police officer comforting his dying horse has gone viral.
Charlotte, a six-year-old mounted patrol horse who had worked with the Houston Police Department for the last four years, was hit by a cement truck on Dec 3 and fatally injured.
She had apparently been spooked by traffic, causing her to buck her rider and step back into the path of the truck.
Her rider, officer D. Herrejon, was taken to hospital as a precaution – and was snapped embracing Charlotte as she slipped away, having been euthanised at the scene.
The Houston Police Department posted a photo of the devastated officer resting his head on hers in her final moments.
While the incident is under investigation, police say the driver of the truck is not believed to be at fault.
A vet was called to the scene to euthanise Charlotte after her back legs were severely injured, said Houston police department spokesman Jodi Silva.
The department said the horse became spooked by traffic before being struck by the truck.
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of Charlotte, an HPD Mounted Patrol horse, who died in the line of duty this morning in a motor vehicle accident," its Facebook post said. The post has been shared more than 8,000 times, according to reports.
“Charlotte came to HPD as an unstarted two-year old Tennessee Walker from Oklahoma. She thrived in HPD Mounted Patrol’s barefoot and natural horsemanship programmes.
“She passed her evaluation period with flying colours and was working the streets of Downtown Houston within a short time of being started under saddle.
“She loved her job and was always ready to go to work putting bad guys in jail or giving nuzzles to children. She served the citizens of Houston for 4 years.
“She will be missed.”
The department also shared on Facebook some pictures of the beautiful memories the officers made with Charlotte.