His 22 years in Humane Law Enforcement have included close encounters with poop and pee, an occasional nip or scratch, but also plenty of grateful licks and thousands of animals rescued from fighting rings squalor, mistreatment, illness and death.

"If we don't do this, there is no one to step up and do the work." For two decades, Bengal had been the face of humane law enforcement in the Philadelphia region and beyond.

On Thursday, amid a deluge of tears, hugs and well-wishes, about 75 friends and co-workers gathered at the Erie Avenue shelter for a luncheon and to say good-bye.

Honoring the man they all call a friend and mentor, the shelter has started The George Bengal Fund to End Animal Cruelty, to help sustain their work in prosecuting animal cruelty cases.

About 40 percent of the Pennsylvania SPCA's $10 million yearly budget goes to Humane Law Enforcement, said CEO Jerry Buckley.

After Vietnam, Bengal became a Philadelphia police officer.

He worked major crimes, narcotics, and SWAT before being assigned to the K-9 unit and teamed up with Sparky, a bomb detection dog.

After 22 years with the police, he retired and launched another 20-year career advocating for animals.

Bengal was diagnosed in February with Stage IV peritoneal mesothelioma, a rare and terminal cancer.

He suspects his military service during the Vietnam War may have exposed him to asbestos, a known cause of the cancer.