Photo of dying police horse
The heartbreaking image shows Officer D Herrejon laying his head on patrol horse Charlotte as she died. Animal Justice League

A heartbreaking photo of a policeman comforting his dying horse has gone viral on social media. The mounted patrol horse, named Charlotte, was hit and killed by a truck while on duty in Houston, Texas.

The accident occured on 3 December, when the horse became spooked. She threw her rider and bolted into the street where she was struck by the vehicle, the Animal Justice League said.

Officer D Herrejon, rushed to her side and laid his head on hers as she died. The poignant image, which has been shared on Facebook by the animal rescue organisation, shows 6-year-old Charlotte being comforted in her final moments by her rider and partner.

In a statement, Houston Police Department paid a heartfelt tribute to Charlotte, who served as a Mounted Patrol horse for four years. "It is with heavy hearts that we announce the death of Charlotte, and HPD Mounted Patrol horse, who died in the line of duty this morning in a motor vehicle accident," the statement read. "She loved her job and was always ready to go to work putting bad guys in jail or giving nuzzles to children."

Patrol horse Charlotte
Houston police department paid tribute to Charlotte who served with the force for four years Houston PD

The Animal Justice League also paid tribute to the officer for his compassion. "We admire the heart & strength of this officer because as you know, when you lose an animal, to be with them during their last breath is a heartbreaking & tough thing to do. Thank you to him for loving his partner & friend until the end. Our hearts go out to him & the HPD family. RIP Charlotte."

Officer Herrejon was taken to hospital as a precaution after the accident Sky News reports. The driver of the truck has not been charged.