Four horses that are part of Waukegan's mounted police patrol need new homes after budget troubles forced the Chicago suburb to cancel its equestrian unit.

"We will be relinquishing the patrol," Waukegan police chief Artis Yancey said Wednesday. "They were an important part of our tool box but unfortunately, in these tough economic times, we had to decide between human resources and the horses."

Yancey said the department is trying to find good homes for the horses, named Freedom, Justice, Billy and Bob. The police chief said they would like to donate the horses to another police agency or private owner.

The patrol started in December 2004 and officers often rode the horses during city events. Their first appearance was at the opening of the city's remodeled Genesee Theatre.

The city has a deficit of $3 million to $6 million. Efforts were made in the community to raise money to care for the horses. School students held fundraisers and anonymous donations were made.

At Abbott Middle School, students raised about $600 through a penny drive and out-of-uniform day. "Save the horses" posters hung around the school. The students met the horses at an assembly.

The police department raised about $10,000. It costs about $35,000 to care for the horses for a year and Yancey said the city owes back bills on the horses' care.

"We really appreciate the efforts of all our donors, especially the students," Yancey said. "It's great to see kids doing something to help out their community. We're saddened we didn't raise enough to sustain the patrol."