Orange County

They’ve nosed out guns, drugs and perps. Now it’s time to stop and smell the roses

Hillsborough Police Department K-9 Viper (left) and Durham Police Department K-9 Prinz (right) each retired from police service this week.
Hillsborough Police Department K-9 Viper (left) and Durham Police Department K-9 Prinz (right) each retired from police service this week. Hillsborough and Durham police departments

It won’t be long before Prinz and Viper will be enjoying more chew toys than chases. They’re retiring from police duty.

The Hillsborough Police Department announced Viper’s retirement on Thursday and he will be recognized for his service at the next Hillsborough Board of Commissioners meeting Monday. Also on Thursday, Durham police said Prinz had retired from service.

Prinz served in the Durham Police Department for almost eight years.

“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.

Prinz and Viper had noteworthy careers.

In his time with the Durham police, Prinz assisted in locating more than 120 fleeing suspects and helped recover more than 200 weapons. Prinz also has been involved with numerous drug seizures and has assisted in locating five missing persons in his DPD career.

Viper 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.

Prinz will continue to live with his handler, K-9 Officer M.D. Mues, and his family.

“We wish K9 Prinz a long and happy retirement,” Durham police said.

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.”

Hillsborough’s other K-9 officer, Vader, continues to work with Senior Cpl. Scott Foster.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews