Orange County

Wanted: Officer-to-be who can sniff out crime, take orders and work for treats

Hillsborough K-9 officer Viper is leaving the force and heading into retirement.
Hillsborough K-9 officer Viper is leaving the force and heading into retirement.

The search for the next great police dog for the Hillsborough Police Department now can start.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough police received a donation of $11,000 from the Durham Kennel Club and its parent organization, the American Kennel Club, to help purchase another police dog. The department has an opening with the recent retirement of Viper, one of its two K-9 officers.

“We are very proud of our K-9 program, and this generous support from the Durham Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club will help us continue it and make it stronger,” said Hillsborough police chief Duane Hampton.

The money for the donation came from the Canine Support and Relief Fund, which helps to replace service dogs, including police K-9s. Replacement and training of a police dog typically costs more than $10,000, according to a news release.

Police dogs usually retire when they are between six and 10 years old. Viper was eight years old.

The police department also will help the AKC publicizing the organization's Reunite program with stickers on K-9 vehicles. The program supports implanting microchips in pets for the recovery of lost pets.

While the donation occurred shortly after Viper's retirement, officials said it had been discussed for many months. Cpl. Scott Foster, who is the handler for Hillsborough's other K-9 Officer Vader, worked with the kennel clubs to finalize the donation.

Hillsborough mayor Tom Stevens said he is looking forward to the police department getting its next K-9 officer.

“Hillsborough so appreciates our police department and loves our K-9s,” the mayor said. “We are so fortunate to have this wonderful support from the kennel clubs just as K-9 Viper is retiring. The donation does make a big difference.”

Hillsborough’s K-9 officers are dual-purpose patrol dogs. In addition to protecting their partners and apprehending suspects, they are able to locate narcotics, track people, perform building searches and locate items, such as discarded weapons.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

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