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Manteca hosts police canine trials April 25
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Manteca Police officer Randy Chiek with his canine partner “Blade” will be competing in the upcoming 39th annual police dog competition on April 25 at Morenzone Park on Union and Center streets. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
The Manteca Police 39th Annual Canine Trials are set for two days this year – April 24, and 25.  
The narcotics dogs will compete on Friday drawing officers from as far away as the Fresno area.  On Saturday the canines are scheduled to go through the protection phase of their training and competition.  
The narcotics event is not open to the public, officers said, because the searches must be run in a controlled environment.
There are approximately 25 police dogs registered for the event.  Despite the downturn in the economy Stanislaus County has reportedly added two handlers and canines.  San Joaquin County has put two new drug-sniffing dogs on the street.
The Saturday event begins at 8 a.m. at the Morenzone Field located next to the Manteca Municipal Golf Course.  The first competition phase is going to be search – followed by the agility phase – and then the obedience competition.  The police dog trials are expected to conclude about 4 p.m.
There will be a break for lunch and the “bad guys” will set up the protection phase where officers and their canine partners compete in four different scenarios designed as training.
The public is welcome to patronize the hot dog, hamburger and soda, water, chips and candy booth and have their lunch in the park with officers’ families.  The concession stand is a fund raiser for the canine operation – staffed by volunteers.  Detective Steve Harris is planning to volunteer his time along with dispatcher Kim Thomas and others donating their time.
In past years a Boy Scout Troop has been present to sell lemonade as a scouting fund raiser.
Manteca canine officers and their police dog partners are:  Officer Randy Chiek and “Blade,”  Officer Dale Goforth and “Gage,” Officer Will Mueller and “Bear,” and Officer Bob Anderson and “Hoss.”
The newest handler is Officer Mark Rangel who has yet to be assigned a canine partner.  Police believe that every dog on the street represents the value of another officer.
Officers suggest that members of the public should leave their dogs and other pets at home when they come to watch the all-day event.
One well-known canine officer in Manteca won’t be competing this year in the open class among dogs on the street  – Grant Flory recently retired his Belgian Malinois, “Spike.”
Flory and “Spike” did compete two weeks ago in a police canine competition at Stockton’s annual canine trials.  They competed in the retired category.  Had they competed in active dogs they would have received third place in the protection phase and fourth place overall.  
“Spike” will be 10 years old  in June and is currently suffering a degree of separation anxiety when his officer partner leaves for work and doesn’t take him along with him.  Flory is currently on day shift as a patrol officer.  He has been a canine officer in Manteca for nearly 20 years.
Flory said he anticipates sweeping the retired category in Manteca, saying if they could compete in the open category they would undoubtedly finish in the top 10 finishers.  “Spike” was featured recently riding in his master’s motorcycle sidecar – peering out the side with his “doggles” over his eyes.  They are designed to protect a dog’s eyes from windburn, debris and bugs.
The past events have been held at Shasta Park, Northgate Park and in recent years Morenzone Park with its fenced ball field areas, shady trees and parking.
Community Service Officer Andrea Contreras – a 22-year veteran of the Manteca Police Department – keeps her eyes on the annual event to make sure it follows the guidelines of the Western States Police Canine Association.  She has served as a board member in that association for the past nine years.  She has served in the roles of vice-president, secretary and treasurer over the years.
Contrares said the police department deeply appreciates all the volunteer workers who come out every year to ensure another successful event.  Those credited with “going the extra mile” for the continued canine competitions include, dispatchers, records clerks, explorers, fellow police officers along with spouses and family members.
“For the 39 years all those people have been present to make this thing run smoothly,” Officer Flory concluded.