RIPON (CBS13) — A select group of canines are taking on more responsibility at the office.
It’s a little off the beaten path in San Joaquin County, but this 6,500 square-foot house in the middle of almond orchards is home to a school that trains the best of the best.
“Some of these dogs are being trained to find narcotics, others are being trained to find guns and ammunition,” said Ron Cloward, who runs the Top Dog Police K-9 Training facility in Ripon.
For the last three weeks, a dozen K-9 police officers from several agencies have been hard at work.
“We’re just continuing to try and create more problem searches, more problem finds to teach the handlers to read their dogs really well when they’re in those situations,” said Cloward.
It may seem like the handler is barking orders, but these dogs are bred for it. It’s part of their natural abilities.
“What you want is a dog that’s high drive and wants to please more than anything. This is all so much fun for them,” said Cloward.
In one exercise, finding the mark means getting a ball as a reward.
This certification just allows them to bone up on their skills to bring the bad guys behind bars.
“They’ve got to be reliable,” Cloward said. “Courts want reliability and they show that in their training records.”
The goal is to have dogs trained in “apprehension” and “contraband searches,” which is common elsewhere in the state.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s office already has two K-9 officers who meet those requirements. They want all 12 certified.
“To give our officers an extra layer of security and protection for our community,” said Sandra Mendez with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
After several weeks, the K-9 officers are ready to go out on the street, but it will take eight weeks before they are fully certified.
“It’s actually a super exciting time for our department,” said Mendez.