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Police K9 officer dies after shift work
Manteca police canine “Coal” died following an uneventful shift assignment at the home of his officer partner. The five-year-old police dog doubled as a family pet. - photo by Photo Contributed
Manteca Police Officer Randy Chiek has lost his canine partner “Coal”.

“Coal” passed away at his home on a recent Sunday morning after being struck with a case of bloat to his gastric system.

Chiek, who has served as a police canine officer for some five years, said he got off work at 4 p.m. and fed “Coal” at about 7 or 8 p.m. that night.   He found his partner lying in his Igloo dog house unresponsive the next morning.

The police dog doubled as a family pet involving himself with Chiek’s wife Tammy and sons Logan, 13, and Lance, 9.  Logan would go out and play with “Coal” on a daily basis and Lance took on the feeding duties each evening.

The officer said it was heart wrenching on the following Wednesday night when he was in the back yard and Lance walked up behind him in his usual habit of feeding the dog, quickly realizing what he was attempting wasn’t possible.

Before Chiek first put the canine in his patrol car last March, “Coal” was assigned to Officer Paul Garcia – an officer who was laid off in the city’s economic crunch.  It was actually a month later when Chiek retired his longtime canine partner “Blade” that “Coal” would go to work with him – the last of four dogs he handled over the dozen plus years.

The Manteca canine officer hopes to purchase another dog from a European country in about three months and use the remainder of the year training him for police work.  He will in the meantime work patrol duties.

Another officer is soon expected to fill the slot “Coal” has left open.  Next January will be Chiek’s first opportunity to return to canine work with a new dog that is expected to cost him upwards of $1,000.  The city does not pay for the law enforcement police dogs that serve in the department.

“Coal” has several arrests to his credit, but no bites.  He was so big he didn’t have to do anything but bark,” the officer said.

Chiek remembers one call when Officer Garcia responded to a parole arrest and search of an offender who had refused to come out of his house.  All “Coal” had to do was to enter the residence.  Parole agent Paul Robison was obviously impressed with the dog’s intimidation.

Chiek voiced his concern  that the public be made aware of the cause of bloating in dogs and especially how to detect the symptoms because  it can be a sure and sudden killer.

It is described as “stomach torsion” or “twisted stomach” that should be recognized as an extremely serious condition and should be considered as a life-threatening condition when it occurs, he noted.

Chiek noted that dogs can die within several hours saying that  home remedies have no effect and a veterinarian is the only hope.  Even with emergency medical treatment, some 30 percent of its victim canines do not survive.

Bloat is said to be caused by different and some unknown reasons where the stomach fills up with air putting pressure on the dog’s organs and diaphragm.  The pressure on the diaphragm reportedly creates a restriction to the animal’s breathing.   Large veins are often compressed by the air-filled stomach preventing blood from returning to the heart.  

The officer added that when the stomach is filled with air it can easily flip itself “pinching off” the blood supply.  

A dog of mixed breed is less likely to develop the gastric dilatation and volvulus than larger canines with thin chest structures.  A Great Dane is listed as at the highest risk compared to 24 other breeds.  

A St. Bernard is second followed by a Weimararaner.  Next is an Irish Setter followed by:  Gordon Setter, Standard Poodle, Basset Hound, Doberman Pinscher, Old English Sheepdog, German Shorthaired Pointer, Newfoundland, German Shepherd, Airdale Terrier, Alaskan Malamute, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Boxer, Collie, Labrador Retriever, English Springer Spaniel, Samoyed, Dachshund, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, mixed breed and Miniature Poodle.

Dogs older than seven are more than twice as susceptible as those two to four years old.    Dogs that are fed only once a day are twice as likely to develop the bloating condition as those that are fed morning and night.  It is recommended that dogs not be exercised an hour before eating or two hours after a meal.

Animals that have nervous, anxious or fearful makeups are also said to be at an increased risk.  It is believed that the dogs swallow air while they are eating and are unable to remove it from their stomachs unlike a human that can remove the accumulated air by belching that is normally swallowed during the course of their day.

A pet education website reports there is no one particular activity that leads to the development of bloating Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus.  It noted that it appears as actually a combination of events that occurs as a result of swallowing air.    

A swollen stomach is reported to be the first sign of abdominal distention along with vomiting where nothing comes up. `