Ride 'Em Cowboy! Hayward Police Officer Rides Wayward Bull Home From Birthday Party | NBC Bay Area
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Ride 'Em Cowboy! Hayward Police Officer Rides Wayward Bull Home From Birthday Party

The party was a fundraiser for Angeles de Oro, a nonprofit that helps children who are sick and have disabilities.

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    The call for service came in to dispatch: Animals roaming the streets.

    Hayward police officer Leland Butcher raced to the rescue.

    What the officer found when he arrived at the scene: A spotted pony, a zebra and Pepe the bull. Turns out, a neighbor on Stanford Avenue thought a petting zoo party had gone awry, the Northern California police department posted on its Facebook page Tuesday.

    But the bull's owner, Jamie Huerta, told NBC Bay Area that nothing was wrong: The neighbor just didn't realize the animals were part of the festivities. "We weren't doing anything wrong," he said in Spanish.

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    Since Butcher was there, the officer didn't want to miss his chance to ride on Pepe — and also impress his wife. So, he hopped on the back of the bull, rounded it up, and rode it home, tipping a cowboy hat back in the air with his right hand, captured in a beautiful photo showing everyone laughing and smiling. The party was a fundraiser for Angeles de Oro, a nonprofit that helps children who are sick and have disabilities.

    "We were happy to see the police officer having a good time," Huerta said. He laughed when he realized the officer's surname is Butcher, because Pepe was saved from slaughter when he was a baby bull.

    Jaimie Huerta, of Hayward, who used to be a jinete, or horse rider, is seen in this undated photo riding his bull, Longhorn.
    Photo credit: Courtesy of Jaimie Huerta

    Butcher was off work on Thursday, and doesn't return until the weekend, police said. So the back story on the party, and his clear rodeo skills, were not immediately known.

    Huerta, however, does have clear skills. He was a jinete, or a horse rider, back in the day, and has a clear love for animals, which includes another bull named Longhorn. Now, he runs a petting zoo and catering business, Ricos Tacos Pepa.

    By Thursday, the post had been shared more than 100 times and commenters cheered on the officer; one person even wrote, "ride 'em cowboy!"

    Que hermoso,” Huerta said of the viral photo op, “how beautiful to see people enjoying the picture of my animals making people happy.”

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez