Public Access is Closed to MOST County Facilities Due to COVID-19.

In response to Governor Inslee's Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and Safe Start Plan, Thurston County continues to operate under an essential services model. This is in effect
until Thurston County enters Phase 3 of the Safe Start Plan. Courts and other elected offices may operate under different hours or restrictions.

(Solid waste facilities are open. For more information, visit:
(For more information on the county's COVID-10 response, visit:
(For more information on essential functions, visit:
(For office contacts, visit:

Field Operations Bureau - K9 Unit

TCSO K-9 Team

Dep. Nault w/K-9 Dexter, Dep. Shenkel w/K-9 Daro, Dep. Bagby w/K-9 Jaxx

The Thurston County Sheriff's Office has a Canine Unit consisting of three K9 Deputies partnered with three German Shepherd dogs. The three canine teams are all assigned to the Thurston County Sheriff's Office Patrol Division and all are assigned routine and general patrol functions; including answering general calls for service, but also have the capability and responsibility to deploy to any scene in which those teams are needed. Our canine teams are all single discipline dogs trained in the tracking of human odor, finding discarded evidence or property, searching buildings and confined areas, as well as handler/deputy protection work. So, when criminals run from our Deputies and Officers from surrounding police agencies within Thurston County, our Canine Teams are called and respond to locate the fleeing or hiding criminals.

The three teams we currently have are Deputy Nault, who is partnered with Canine “Dexter”, Deputy Shenkel who is partnered with Canine “Daro” and Deputy Devin Bagby who is partnered with Canine “Jaxx”.

Deputy Nault has been a law enforcement officer since 2011 and has been partnered with K-9 Dexter since the beginning of 2018.  Dexter was born in March of 2014, is a German Shephard from the Czech Republic and lives at home with Deputy Nault, his wife and their 3 kids.

Deputy Nault & K-9 Dexter

Deputy Nault and K-9 Dexter

Deputy Shenkel has been a law enforcement officer since 2009 and has been partnered with K-9 Daro since August of 2014.  Daro was born in June of 2013, is a German Shephard-Belgian Malinois mix from Israel and lives at home with Deputy Shenkel.

Deputy Shenkel & K-9 Daro

Deputy Shenkel and K-9 Daro

Deputy Bagby has been a law enforcement officer since 2011 and has been partnered with K-9 Jaxx since July of 2016.  Jaxx was born in December of 2014 and is an American Bred German Shephard which was donated to our program from Excelon Kennels in Shelton Washington and lives at home with Deputy Bagby, his wife and their two kids.

Deputy Bagby & K-9 Jaxx

Deputy Bagby and K-9 Jaxx

The primary duties of our Canine Teams are to track criminals who flee from law enforcement officers. They do this by using their noses to smell a distinct odor of the person they are trying to find. All of us lose thousands of skin particles every second and the odor those particles emit are just as unique to a particular person as a fingerprint or DNA. Our German Shepherds detect that unique odor of a human being, and will track that person based on that unique smell to wherever that person flees.

A German Shepherd is not only an extremely intelligent dog, but they have a unique ability to smell things that humans cannot even begin to comprehend. The ability to smell is all done through a part of our brain called the olfactory lobe. If you were to take an average human being’s olfactory lobe out and roll it out with a rolling pin, it would be about the size of a US Postage Stamp. A German Shepherd's olfactory lobe however would roll out to be 1 square yard in dimensions, which shows the huge difference and their clear superiority in their sense of smell.

In order for a canine team to be certified through the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and the Washington State Police Canine Association (WSPCA) the dog and handler must complete a minimum of 400 hours of basic training which encompasses Obedience, Protection, Locating Evidence, Tracking, Building Searches and Area Searches. Once the handler and canine complete the basic certification training and pass the certification test, they are able to perform the duties of patrol dog teams in the state of Washington. However, just like a 16-year-old who just obtained their license, the teams have much more training and learning to do. Our canine teams participate and train a minimum of 20 hours per month to advance their skills and proficiency.

The philosophy of Canine Units in the past was always to have the biggest, baddest and meanest dogs that the agencies could find. Our philosophy toward our Canine Unit has changed and evolved quite drastically from what it used to be. We now get smaller more social dogs and disciplined training is the key to our programs huge success. Our canines are trained to a high level of discipline and proficiency which replaces the old philosophy. Our dogs no longer need to be these huge mean aggressive animals; instead they are focused on obedience and skill.

Our canines are assigned to one specific handler and stay with that handler 24/7. When the handler goes home, his canine partner goes with him. Our handlers are always on call and have the obligation to be called out to an emergency situation at a moment's notice. Because of that, they need to have a supportive family and be aware that this obligation is part of that assignment. Because the canines are taken home and live with the handlers, they become a part of the handler’s family and a strong bond with that handler is developed. The average working career of a canine varies, ending when they are no longer physically fit to perform the duties and tasks of being a working canine. The typical age of retirement for a law enforcement canine is between 8 and 10 years old and the dogs do not even begin their careers as a working police canine until they are nearly 2 years old or older.

Our Canine Unit prides itself on being a no or low-cost program to Thurston County and the tax payers. Our handlers seek donations to make this program run largely on those donations in order to cover all of the costs associated with the canine programs and the care of our animals in these lean financial times. In this day and age of shrinking budgets, cost reduction and employee layoffs (including deputies), our canine handlers have solicited and raised donations to pay for all the costs associated with our program; to include equipment costs, training costs, upkeep and food four our canines. In fact, in years past when layoffs of deputies occurred, if it were not for the donations of our public and local businesses, we would have lost our canine program, as it would be one of the programs that would end up being cut in order to keep from losing more deputy sheriff FTE’s.

Our canine units participate in several public education and demonstration events throughout the year and we all look forward to seeing you out there and introducing you to our teams.

The Thurston County Canine Unit has a 501c3 corporation set up so all donations are tax deductible. We appreciate any and all donations, no matter how big or small. If you are interested in donating to the Thurston County Canine Program, please call the Thurston County Sheriff's Office Canine Unit at (360) 786-5500 or go to our Facebook Page, which is titled Thurston County Sheriff's Office K9 Unit where donations are accepted via PayPal at this link.