Residents might have been a little nervous –or curious – this past week when multiple law enforcement vehicles converged near the Big Boy Market building on Jackson Avenue.
Not to worry, it was K9 training that was taking place, with law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies utilizing the former supermarket as a new training ground.
Grant Flory of Top Dog Police K9 Training and Consulting was on hand to oversee the training and said they plan to be back at Big Boy later this month for two more days of working with the officers and their K9 partners.
“It’s nice to have a new venue other than our Modesto Training Center,” Flory said of utilizing the market for activities including search, detection and man work.
Top Dog officials knew the store was empty and contacted Mike Toy, who was “agreeable to let us use the business,” Flory explained.
Training was done this past week, Jan. 8 and 9, and two more training days have already been scheduled, for Jan. 22 and 23. The Jan. 22 date will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Jan. 23 from noon to 8 p.m. so there will be plenty of police vehicles back in the area.
Among the agencies they contract with to provide training for the police K9s are Tuolumne County, Calaveras County, Angels Camp, the U.S. Park Service, Livermore Police Department and Alameda Police Department.
“We have 26 contracts up and down the state,” Flory said, including one with nearby Oakdale, working with their K9 officers.
Top Dog was also not the first law enforcement-related agency to utilize the former supermarket site.
“Manteca’s SWAT team had done their training there recently,” Flory said.
Former Escalon Police Officer Rob Armosino, now with Manteca, had suggested the site as a possible location for the K9 work and Flory said he is glad it worked out.
A retired Manteca police officer, Flory said he worked as a K9 officer for 20 of his 30 years with that department. Now, he works part time for Ron Cloward, owner of Top Dog and also provides initial training to dogs they import for later sale to police agencies.
“He called me after I retired,” Flory said of Cloward. “I get to bring my prior handling experience to the team.”