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Manteca canine killed on duty is being honored
Manteca PD canine “Quint” killed on duty in 1974 will be memorialized March 31 in Davis with other police dogs that were killed in the line of duty. - photo by Photo Contributed
A Manteca Police dog that died in the line of duty some 35 years ago is going to be remembered Tuesday, March 31, along with 10 other canines who gave their all in protecting their communities.

It was in 1974 when Quint was ordered to search for burglary suspects on Lovell Way near Highway 99. Officer Frank Gibbs said his canine followed a scent along the fence line and then darted across the freeway following that scent when he was killed instantly by a southbound truck.

Manteca Mayor Willie Weatherford was a canine officer in the early 1960s, and served with Quint early on as his four legged partner. When Weatherford became a sergeant he had to release the dog back to the department.

“I had him first – got him from a security service in Pleasanton. He was a great dog – weighed over 100 pounds,” Weatherford said. He added that Quint had a strong blood line – a beautiful dog.

Weatherford said that Quint was perfectly aggressive on the job, but was also an outstanding family pet when he had him at home. He remembered the dog always playing with his three-year-old daughter, Dayna, pushing her around with his nose.

Officer Chuck Wegner had Quint for four years before he left the department, and went into the insurance field. It was Wegner who had the only picture now in existence of the police dog.

Frank Gibbs also left the Manteca force for a job as a motorcycle officer in Virginia where, unfortunately, he was killed in an off-duty motorcycle accident – also by a truck. He reportedly had just picked up a set of uniforms from the cleaners, and was headed home when the crash occurred.

The “Faithful Partner” memorial event is scheduled in two weeks at 12:30 p.m. on the UC Davis campus. It is being sponsored by the UC Davis Police Department, and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine along with the Western States Police Canine Association honoring police dogs that have died in the line of duty between 2004 and the present day. Quint has been included since he was somehow overlooked in prior years, as was a dog from Napa named Vem. He was killed in 1979.

Some 100 canine handlers are expected to attend the ceremony from as far away as San Diego, Oceanside, Salinas, San Leandro, Sacramento and Manteca.  However the count may be less due to the economy and the related costs of sending officers from throughout the state.

While the UC Davis campus is relatively close to Manteca, only one officer, Paul Garcia, is going to be able to attend as of Monday – again due to budget constraints.

Some departments are taking a hard look at their budgets, and the funding necessary to continue with their canine units. It is those same police dogs that have continued to save lives when searching out criminals from dark buildings that officers would otherwise have to personally search  themselves.

The memorial statue of a German Shepherd standing on the alert was donated to California law enforcement agencies by an anonymous citizen who adamantly believed in the K9 partners who serve law enforcement.

Criteria for inclusion in the event are that the K9’s death must have been the result of a criminal act, and the K9 team was actively deployed in law enforcement application within the border of the State of California. Military and private security dogs are excluded. However, federal agents operating in California when a dog is killed are included.