Published: Jan 08, 2012 02:00 AM
Modified: Jan 06, 2012 05:08 PM
HILLSBOROUGH - A new K9 officer joins the Hillsborough Police Department this month, replacing a police dog that has served the town for eight years.
Officer Viper, a German shepherd dog from Czechoslovakia, was purchased from Tarheel Canine Training Inc. in Sanford, the same business that provided the department's two current police dogs.
"We have had great success with the dogs that have come from the business, so it made sense to start looking there first," Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said in a news release.
"Our officers made several trips down to Sanford to look at dogs and found one that seemed to be exactly what we are looking for - the drive to do the job, with the ability to still be friendly and interact with the public."
Like Hillsborough's other K9s, Viper is a dual-purpose patrol dog. In addition to protecting their partners and apprehending suspects, dual-purpose dogs can find drugs, track people, search buildings and locate items such as discarded weapons.
Officer Sampson, the retiring dog, is 10 years old. Most police dogs retire between 6 and 10 years of age. After retiring, Sampson will continue to live with his handler, Cpl. Mike Foushee, as a pet and part of Foushee's family.
Foushee will become Viper's handler and will train with Viper in January for about four weeks.
The new police dog owes his name to children in the Orange County Schools.
"Our K9 program has a history of making visits and doing educational programs at our schools," Hampton said. "When we started trying to decide on the new dog's name, it was a natural fit to involve the kids."
Students at local elementary schools got a chance in December to vote on the new dog's name from a list of five choices. Viper received 589 votes, 48 percent of the total 1,220 votes received. Other names considered were Hawk, Shaka, Recon and Lycan.
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