The Arroyo Grande Police Department lost one of its top dogs this year — literally.
Officer Gregor, an 8-year-old black German shepherd, retired because of an autoimmune disease that affects his joints and made it difficult for him to perform his duties, police Chief Steven Annibali said.
The Arroyo Grande Police Department held a special ceremony at the Arroyo Grande City Council meeting Tuesday to honor its promoted and retiring officers, including Gregor. The room was filled to the brim, with officers and their families spilling outside and watching the ceremony through the windows.
The star of the evening was Gregor. During his six years with the department, Gregor has helped to catch more than 20 suspects and has assisted law enforcement agencies including the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service in numerous operations.
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“He’s been an outstanding canine, probably the best we’ve ever had in recent years, and we’re really going to miss him,” Annibali said.
As Gregor walked into the room Tuesday night amid cheers and “awws” from the crowd, he was wagging a bandaged tail. Gregor is “not taking his retirement well,” Annibali joked. He sometimes chews on his tail when his handler, Sgt. Shane Day, goes to work.
“He sees his handler going to work and just doesn’t understand why he can’t go,” Annibali said.
Day (who also was promoted Tuesday night), received a plaque and a basket of dog treats and toys for Gregor.
Gregor’s name will be added to the department’s Wall of Honor.
Besides Gregor, Annibali joked, another “old dog” was retiring — Commander Kevin McBride retired from the department this year and took a new position with Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
McBride served with the city for more than 32 years, and throughout his career was also a canine handler and trainer. He was promoted to commander in 2012.
The city also welcomed a new officer, Elia Esparsa, of Santa Maria and promoted six of its staff: Michael Martinez to commander; Day and Jason Castillo to sergeant; and Jeremy Burns, Zak Ayala and Stephen Doherty to senior police officers.