Todd Thompson is a full-time police officer with over 20 years of experience on patrol, and he's the owner of Evo K9 Group. He’s worked in the K9 unit for 18 years and SWAT for 9 of those years as the SWAT team’s dog handler.
Todd has led numerous training sessions and specializes in small-unit tactics, having come from a small agency focused on integrating dogs into team-based tactics.
What Was Your Best K9 Deployment?
My last dog RŌNIN and I got a call to help find an escaped prison convict that was holed up in a house. After getting all of our gear ready, I looked back down at my phone and saw an update: the home was in my neighborhood, but unbelievably, literally in my cul-de-sac! I can look out of my window and could see the house across from my driveway.
As it turned out, the lady living in the home had just started dating this guy and had no idea that he had recently escaped from a prison down South. After making announcements we went downstairs, RŌNIN located him and made contact in the basement, and we took the convict into custody.
Needless to say, it made block parties a little awkward after that incident, but it was definitely our fastest deployment we’d ever had.
Who Was RŌNIN?
From the moment I brought RŌNIN home, we knew there was something very special about him. Almost effortlessly, he sailed through and mastered both Patrol and Narcotics training. When we introduced RŌNIN to SWAT dog tactics, he truly excelled. It was almost like he was born for this kind of intense work.
He was one of those dogs that had a great ON/OFF switch, knowing when it was time to work and time to play. He was even great at demos and was a true showman, which was perfect for our small community.
They say that K9 handlers can expect some fairly universal themes when it comes to their dogs. Your first dog you’ll generally just get by with it, your second dog gets better, and by your third dog and even fourth dogs, they get even better.
RŌNIN was my third dog and to be honest, he was a once-in-a-lifetime dog. With him, commands were no longer necessary. He just knew exactly what I needed him to do simply by the look on my face.
He was definitely a therapy dog for me too. With RŌNIN, every time I would come back from a hard call and get into the patrol car, he knew how to be there for me. He just knew exactly how to provide that comfort and companionship that only a dog can.
After RŌNIN, I told myself I was never going to get another dog. I thought I couldn’t do it anymore after losing a dog like him. I didn’t think that I could ever put myself through that again. But as it turns out, RŌNIN’s story led me to my current dog, Havoc.
For the entirety of RŌNIN’s emotional and incredible story, watch the video above.
Tell Us About The Gear That You Use
Gear is a tremendous part of what we do both in training dogs in the private sector and with our dogs when we’re deploying. We NEED gear that we KNOW is not going to fail. The absolute last thing any handler wants during time out in the field is an equipment failure, no matter how large or small. We simply can’t afford it, especially in life or death scenarios.
I consider myself a bit of a gear-geek and I invest a good amount of time researching all of the tools and equipment that I use with Havoc and our other K9s. I can honestly say that I only use the best. Even though gear can be expensive, it’s 100% worth it, every time, especially when it comes to the lives and careers of military and law enforcement.
Often, agencies will buy a handler’s gear, but just as often, the handlers themselves are buying their own. We’ve got to know that the equipment we buy is going to be durable and last for a long time.
For example, unlike a civilian-grade leash, the kind of leash officers need in the field comes with an entirely different set of expectations. K9 handlers can’t risk their leash breaking because it can save their dog’s life, the handler’s life, and often both. At the end of the day, I don’t have time for “second best.”
And when it comes to the best, I count on Ray Allen to provide top quality K9 equipment. I’ve been working with Ray Allen for a number of years, and we have even worked together on developing a few unique products.
Based on my experiences in the field and a variety of needs that I had identified, we came up with designs for some really great no-nonsense harnesses. Together, we stress-tested these harnesses and made sure they are built to last. We had to make sure that they didn’t hamper the dog’s movement in any way, while remaining durable.
After rigorous testing and development, I think we created some truly excellent tactical harnesses. Not to mention these harnesses look super cool too!
Another thing I love about working with Ray Allen is that their customer service is second to none. Their service doesn’t end when the order has been filled, which is super important in this line of work. Even if we come across something like a fray, their customer service is always responsive and works with us to fix the problem.
What Is EVO K9 Group?
The Evo K9 Group is a small agency that focuses on protection dog training for both private citizens and law enforcement agencies as well as basic obedience training for dogs and dog owners.
When I started the company, I called it Evo K9 Group because as a training organization, we’ve needed to evolve again and again. In fact, now we’re actually importing and raising different dog breeds which is something we’ve only decided to take on, recently.
Because we specialize in protection dogs and basic dog obedience training, it’s been very fulfilling to witness the excitement and satisfaction, from our clients. I’ve found that surrounding myself with people who love dogs just as much as I do, makes the work so rewarding. Our mission is to help people get the most out of their dogs, while building strong relationships with their dogs, no matter what role they play.