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Paying their respects
Bear served to protect Mantecas residents
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Manteca Police officers stand at attention and offer their respectful salutes to longtime Manteca canine Bear. - photo by Photo by Lori Kelly

Eight Manteca police dogs barked feverishly as their fellow canine was rolled through their ranks during a ceremony that would end with the 12-year-old German shepherd being put down.
“Bear” was no longer able to walk while eating became extremely difficult two weeks ago.  Bear’s last ride in a Manteca Police patrol car took place Monday afternoon. Canine Officer Bob Anderson picked up the popular retired police dog from his home northeast of Manteca.
“He couldn’t stand,” Bob Anderson said. “The whole way here his head was up like he knew this was his last ride.”
Anderson worked with the canine’s handler Officer Will Mueller who had the dog at his side for years in the field. As they approached the city limits,  Anderson parked his patrol car just east of Highway 99 and Lathrop Road where he was soon met by another black and white patrol car and two motorcycle officers.
Bear got a lights and siren escort onto Lathrop Road and south onto Crestwood Avenue to the veterinary hospital at the corner of Northgate Drive as the two motor officers blocked east and westbound traffic. 
Another tribute in the short parade, was the fire department’s 100-foot ladder truck and its four firefighters. Some 20 Manteca Police officers gathered to show their respect and appreciation to the canine that for years faithfully served to protect Manteca’s citizens as well as Bear’s officer partner. As Bear was lifted from the patrol car to a waiting cart covered by a large green cloth,  there were two family members there for the last time to greet the dog that had become their family pet — the handling officer’s wife Carrie and 8-year-old daughter Bella.  While Bear was on police duty every night Mueller worked, he was the family pet on the other nights and weekends,
“He was an awesome dog, not afraid of anything,” canine officer Randy Chiek said of Bear.
 Canine officer Richard Smigelski noted that Bear was born in Europe in January 2004 and imported into North Carolina. He was certified to work the streets three years later in 2007. 
Asked for a comment, Police Chief Nick Obligacion said, “That’s a hard one, been there done that, like when I had to put my dog down in 2001.  It goes back to the same thing that you spend more time with them than you do with your family.”
Obligacion credited his officers for being part of the send-off of the police dog — all on their own time and not being paid by the city for their attendance Monday.
Anderson explained that Bear was Will Mueller’s first dog with the department — that’s what you mold others after, he said.
He was a kind dog and you could take him anywhere and he would greet any kid who might walk up to him.
Mueller’s new dog named Ryder is a Belgian Malinois. He’s smaller than a German shepherd but just as active as a working police dog and one that can easily capture suspects hiding in attics.   
The Northgate Veterinary Hospital is the official care facility for all of Manteca Police’s canines.