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Officer says sad goodbye to canine partner

Shawn Preasmyer says putting down Ringo, a Dutch Shepherd and member of the Newport force, was tough.

November 15, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck
  • Officer Shawn Preasmyer and Ringo worked as a team in the Newport Beach Police Department's canine unit since 2007. Preasmyer and the department said goodbye to Ringo last week who had retired in 2009 because of back problems.
Officer Shawn Preasmyer and Ringo worked as a team in the… (Courtesy Newport…)

Newport Beach Police Officer Shawn Preasmyer remembers the day six years ago when he brought home a new partner — and a new roommate.

It was pouring rain as he set up a kennel for Ringo, the Dutch Shepherd who would live with him for a few weeks before a training program would match them up for good.

Ringo was Preasmyer's first canine partner but he joined another dog at home that day. The officer remembers Ringo meeting his chocolate Labrador retriever.

"The lab spins around on him and kind of says, 'We're going to be friends, but I'm going to rule the back yard,'" Preasmyer said.

Ringo retired from the police force in October 2009, but on Nov. 8 of this year, the department and Preasmyer said a permanent goodbye.

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The officer reminisced this week about Ringo, so far his only canine partner, who was euthanized earlier this month at 13 years old.

"We lost a part of our family when Ringo had to be put down," Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said as Preasmyer showed off the dog's badge and identification card.

The Newport Beach Police Department staffs two canine officers. The dogs and handler are assigned together for the life of the dog. They live, work and train together.

They are on call 24 hours a day to search for fugitives or drugs.

"One of my last narcotics searches was a search for CHP and [Ringo] found a bunch of heroin, maybe a pound or so, stuffed behind the dash," Preasmyer reminisced.

In 2007, Ringo was without a partner after his handler left because of an injury, and Preasmyer decided to try out for the position.

After six weeks of training with Ringo, the two were bonded.

Ringo was eager to follow the officer's commands and be rewarded with a floppy toy Frisbee or other encouragement.

"You have to get down on the ground to basically talk baby talk to these dogs," Preasmyer said, explaining how officers motivate their charges.

Because they're such a small crew, police canine handlers are a tight-knit brotherhood in Orange County, said Officer Mike Fletcher, Newport's other K-9 handler.

He and Preasmyer train with handlers from nearby agencies. An Irvine police handler, Officer Bob Smith, has a reputation for concocting the most extreme training scenarios.

Fletcher and Preasmyer have used harnesses to lower their dogs from the side of a bridge into water, where a target was waiting to be bitten, and sent them into waste-deep ocean water to practice apprehending a suspect.

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