It won’t be long before Hillsborough police dog Viper will be enjoying more chew toys than chases. He’s retiring from police duty.
The Hillsborough Police Department announced Viper’s retirement on Thursday and he will be recognized for his service at next the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners meeting Monday.
“What these dogs are capable of is really amazing,” said Hillsborough police officer Mike Toellen, who began serving as Viper’s handler in the fall of 2015. “What they can do with their nose, the smallest scent they can find, it’s something to see.”
Viper joined the Hillsborough Police Department in 2012. His first handler was Cpl. Mike Foushee, who previously retired.
The 8-year-old police dog has developed an unidentified medical condition that makes it hard for him to walk long distances.
Viper has had a noteworthy career.
He’s assisted the State Highway Patrol by locating a person who ran from a vehicle stop in Orange County. Another time, he located guns for Hillsborough police that a suspect buried in a pile of rubble. His sniffer was pretty good too. He’s located narcotics several times in vehicles and buildings for Hillsborough police.
Viper’s career as a scent-tracking, suspect-locating police dog has come to an end, but the K-9 officer is settling into a comfortable retirement.
In retirement, Viper will continue to live with Toellen’s family, where he has developed a strong bond with Toellen’s young son, Jaxon.
“Viper turned his role from being with me to being with Jaxon,” Toellen said. “Wherever Jaxon is, Viper is. They play in the yard. He sleeps on the trundle bed below Jaxon. It’s priceless.”
The town’s other K-9 officer, Vader, continues to work with Senior Cpl. Scott Foster.