The Flathead K9 Foundation is a 501c3 that brings the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office and Flathead County Search and Rescue K9s under one roof. By training and working side by side we become a better more efficient resource to help the communities of Flathead County and the surrounding areas.

Deployments occur only through the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. If you need to report a missing or overdue individual in Flathead County dial 406-758-5610 or 9-1-1

K9 Handlers

Julie Balch

Julie Balch

K9 Handler/President

Julie Balch is a K9 handler for Flathead County Sheriff's Search and Rescue. She has been a member of North Valley Rescue Association for 22 years. She has been a K9 handler for 10 and a flanker for 7 years prior to becoming a handler. She currently works with two certified HRD dogs.

Her current partners are K9 Talyn, an 8 yr old Belgian Malinois, and K9 Kuma, a 3 year old Belgian Malinois/Dutch Shepherd, both certified in HRD (humane remains detection) through NAPWDA. Talyn has many missions under her belt and is the most experienced in our county. She has had multiple finds and has helped bring several loved ones home. Kuma is a big powerful girl who is well on her way of becoming a great search dog.

Mike Skinner

K9 - Explosives / Vice President

Mike Skinner retired from the FBI in July of 2015 after serving for over 29 years as a Special Agent. His investigative duties included violent crimes, bank robbery, domestic and international terrorism, fugitives, and gang cases.

Mike was also tactical operator on the FBI Hostage Rescue Team for 11 years, during which he was involved in numerous high-risk and high-profile tactical incidents. Mike’s last assignment was as a tactical canine handler with HRT. Mike and his K-9 partner were deployed across the United States with the Hostage Rescue Team, FBI field offices, and other military and law enforcement agencies.

Mike currently handles Sherlock, an explosives detection canine.

Erika Barchurski Williams

K9 Handler - Training /Treasurer

Bio coming soon

Jodi Berg

K9 Handler - Training

Bio coming soon

Todd Schleusner

Todd Schleusner

K9 Handler

K9 Jake is a 3 year old Black Labrador Retriever handled by Dr. Todd Schleusner. K9 Jake and Todd have attained NAPWDA and IPWDA Certification status in the following challenging disciplines: obedience, patrol tracking, area live find, and cadaver to include crime scene & human remains detection (HRD) on land and open water. In addition to maintaining these diverse certifications they are working on attaining large area “scent specific” work and much longer distance Search and Rescue (SAR) Trailing certifications. Notably they have attended the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) Seminar in San Marcos, Texas and have assisted in various local searches in Glacier National Park, Flathead and Lake Counties.

Jake’s favorite rewards are tugs, treats, and affection.

Dep. Charles Pesola

K9 - Narcotics

Bio Coming Soon

Dep. Pat McGauley

K9 - Patrol

Pat McGauley is a Deputy Sheriff and canine handler for the Flathead County Sheriff's Office and handles K-9 Audie, a Belgian Malinois from Holland. Audie is currently a single-purpose patrol dog for FCSO and is trained in criminal apprehension, tracking, and evidence recovery.

Pat and his family moved to Flathead Valley in 2020 and Audie went into service for FCSO in July of 2021 after the two were a dual-purpose team in Northeast Florida. Pat worked two previous dual-purpose canines in Florida and has been a handler since 2009. He was an FDLE canine team instructor and the canine trainer for his previous agency. Pat and Audie are also currently attached to the Northwest Montana Regional SWAT team and provide canine support to various local agencies.

Neil Day

K9 Handler

Bio and Photo Coming Soon

Diane Phillips

K9 Handler

Diane Phillips was born and raised in the Flathead Valley. She joined the army right out of high school and spent 6 1/2 years as an MP/Physical Security NCO at various stateside and overseas duty stations. After the military she moved back to Montana and joined Flathead County Search and Rescue, where she has been a member for 13 years. The last 8 years she has been a K9 handler with multiple certifications with NAPWDA and IPWDA. Her current K9 partner is Mandy.

China Prentice

K9 Handler - Secretary

Dr. China Prentice is a veterinarian at Bigfork Animal Hospital and has been a member of North Valley Rescue Association since 2018. She is currently training her Walker Coonhound Johnnie in tracking where he is renowned for his baying voice when he is on the trail! You can see them at our PR events where Johnnie loves to meet people and be an advocate for the working SAR dogs, and of course his fellow hounds. Johnnie loves to camp and goes everywhere with China, including hunting trips, but never rides in the dog box!

China is known for being pretty tech savvy with the Garmin equipment and other mapping software used for SAR and tracking, and enjoys flanking on missions. She is the SAR liaison for the Montana Law Enforcement Canine Association and helps arrange the annual certification. China is an avid hunter, fishes and floats the numerous local rivers, and has a general passion for the outdoors and its amazing views!

Carrie Barrone

K9 Handler

Carrie started her SAR career in 2019. She jumped right in with K9 Finn and they have been learning the ropes together. Finn is an exuberant border collie who believes in living life full out. He is being trained as a single discipline tracking dog. He is currently certified for Patrol track through NAPWDA. While certification was a huge milestone for this beginning team, they are focused on training more complex scenarios in order to be a valuable team during deployments. Working together is a daily occurrence for them. If they aren't tracking you can find them doing K9 fitness exercises, working on basic obedience, dabbling in trick training, playing bonding games or just going on a long walk.

Amanda McIntosh

K9 Handler

Amanda joined the K9 team and Flathead County Search and Rescue in 2019 to develop the skills to be a conservation canine handler, and quickly fell in love with the challenge of training a SAR dog. Amanda cares deeply about community outreach, especially helping the public understand and appreciate our K9 resources, and is continually inspired by the support within the team and community. Although she is still a junior handler, Amanda is passionate about fostering inclusivity and growth within the team, and hopes to one day be able to help other new handlers develop their skills.

K9 Sadie, her partner, is her first SAR dog. She is an Aussie/Pyranese from a reservation. K9 Sadie is training for wilderness live area. To maintain fitness for deployments, you can often find them out on a trail run or hike. They also enjoy skijor in the winter. They hope to certify in Live Area this spring.