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Food-4-Less donates police dog
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Manteca Police Canine Officer Victor Vincent gets a smooch from his new partner “Kato” that was officially presented to him Tuesday morning in front of the Manteca Food-4-Less market on East Yosemite Avenue with store and police management on hand. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Food-4-Less stepped up to the plate Tuesday and presented Manteca Police officer Victor Vincent with a canine already trained in search and protection.

The 16-month-old full blooded German shepherd named “Kato,” originally from Czechoslovakia, was trained at Big Basin Kennels in Oakdale where the trainer also works with Belgian Malinois, Dobermans and Rottweilers.

Director of the Manteca Food-4-Less market Josh Schmidt said that one of their employees saw the story in the Manteca Bulletin about the death of a police canine and brought it to the attention of the store owners. The Food-4-Less owners agreed they should provide another police canine. The cost was estimated to be between $5,000 and $10,000.

“We just wanted to be a good community partner,” Schmidt said.  “We felt this was a great opportunity to help the police department’s canine unit.”

Officer Vincent said his new canine partner will probably be ready for a ride-along in about eight weeks and should be ready for full certification in three months and be on the street for shift work.

While “Kato” came trained in search and protection, department trainer retired Manteca Sgt. Gary Lee will serve as his trainer along with Vincent and unit Sgt. Chris Mraz.

While the presentation by the supermarket in Spreckels Marketplace was Tuesday morning, Vincent has actually had possession of the dog for the last two months at his Escalon home.  The officer lives in what he describes as a “bachelors’ pad” with another six-year-old shepherd that he uses for home protection along with his two teenage sons, Victor Jr. and Tony – both students at Escalon High.

Vincent said the new canine has settled right in at the family home with his dog and his two teens.

Sgt. Mraz explained that the canine unit is hoping to add a total of three new dogs in the next four months.  He said the department is actively looking for a canine partner for Officer Eddie Cardenas. They are hoping to somehow to get it funded.

He noted the cash contributions that came from the community members have totaled about $3,000 that were meant to help in the purchase of a police dog.  Those monies were placed in a separate Manteca Police Canine Association bank account to help pay for a second animal, he added.

Officer Vincent has had two other police dogs during his tenure with the MPD.  He worked with the original “Kato” for nine years from 1990 until 1999.  The second canine partner entered the Manteca patrol scene in 1999 for a four-year stint until 2003.

The canine officer said he has always enjoyed being in the canine unit finding the most action when called to the scene – always in the forefront of the action.

“I’ve always loved dogs – always loved Shepherds.  It’s fun to see them progress and become working police dogs,” he said.

At just 16 months “Kato” weighs about 67 pounds with a mature weight expected to reach up to a sleek 85 pounds.  

Sgt. Mraz asked that anyone wanting to make additional donations toward the Manteca Police Canine Unit to contact him at the department’s main number of 456-8010.  Those donations are entirely tax deductible, he said.

Also the annual Manteca Police Canine Competition – with some 15 other departments attending – is set for April 30 at Morenzone Field located near Union and Center streets.