New Centralia Law Dog Hits the Streets

The newest member of the Centralia Police Department was introduced to the public during Tuesday’s city council meeting in the Hub City.

Pax, a 15-month-old male Belgian malinois, will serve alongside Centralia Police officer Ruben Ramirez. 

Pax replaces Ramirez’s former partner, Lobo, a German shepherd who was retired from service in September and now lives at home with Ramirez. Lobo had served as a Centralia Police K9 since 2010 but was forced into retirement due to an unknown medical condition that has caused him to lose control of his hind legs. During their time together, Ramirez and Lobo were deployed more than 200 times and caught at least 84 suspects.

City Council Meeting
Pax, a new K9 with the Centralia Police Department, knocks Mayor Lee Coumbs’ nameplate to the floor as he enthusiastically greeted the city council with his handler Officer Ruben Ramirez.

Jordan Nailon /

When it was determined that Lobo would have to be retired, Centralia Police Chief Carl Nielsen began searching for a replacement. Pax was bred in Europe and selected by Nielsen and his wife Jan personally. 

“He is a lover but he is also a worker,” Nielsen said. “For those that were around Ruben and Lobo, he is a completely different dog. Ruben is having a great time. It’s hard to get the smile off his face because Ruben can actually take this dog and people can pet him and all kinds of stuff.”

K9 Pax was brought to Lewis County at the same time as Tiesto, another male Belgian malinois that has joined Chehalis police officer Warren Ayers as a replacement for his former K9 partner, Reign, who died from an unexplained medical event last year. 

Chief Nielsen and his wife Jan, who run Code 4 Canine, LLC, hand picked both dogs from breeders in Europe, noting that European police dogs tend to be healthier and more prone to working. Chief Nielsen noted that his wife has been instrumental in implementing the six-week training program required for both dogs.  

That six-week training regimen was just recently completed, and K9 Pax has wasted little time making himself useful to his department since he joined the force. Nielsen noted that just days ago, Pax helped to recover 15 pounds of heroin during a traffic stop and added that he’d previously helped to locate a suspect armed with a knife who was hiding in a crawl space. Then, on Wednesday, Pax found himself putting in work with JNET in a drug related raid.

JNET Investigation
K9 officer Ruben Ramirez walks K9 Pax from a house during a JNET investigation Wednesday afternoon in Chehalis.

Jared Wenzelburger /

“These dogs are out here to keep our officers safe and our community safe,” said Nielsen. “Pax and Ruben are out on the street. If you see them out cruising around he’ll be more than happy to stop and get the dog out.”

The dogs were purchased using funds donated by a pair of anonymous donors from the Twin Cities, and the Nielsens donated their training efforts in order to quickly get police dogs back on the streets of Lewis County since the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office’s K9 Axel, handled by Deputy Rick VanWyck, was previously the only dog on duty.

During Tuesday night’s introductions, K9 Pax was so excited to meet Mayor Lee Coumbs that he put two feet up on the council bench and knocked the mayor’s nameplate to the floor as Coumbs extended his hand.

“I guess he didn’t like the mayor vote,” joked a voice in the crowd.

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That sort of exuberance came as no surprise to Ramirez who said his arms were sore for two days after trying to control K9 Pax during recent policing shifts. 

“He’s a lot younger dog than I’m used to, so you’re going through the puppy pains. Because he’s a young dog, he’s still got a lot of maturing to do,” Ramirez told The Chronicle in December.

City Council Meeting
Officer Reuben Ramirez shows off his new K9 partner, Pax, during the Centralia City Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Jordan Nailon /