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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is grieving after losing a dedicated K-9 this weekend during a drug investigation.

According to the Sheriff’s Office the Drug Enforcement Unit was investigating in the Ash area around 7:30 p.m. Saturday when K-9 Viper, a Belgian Malinous, and his handler Dep. Jared Zeller were called out to help search for a large amount of cocaine.

When they found the drugs, Viper bit through the plastic wrap and the tape surrounding the two-pound package of cocaine, which led to a severe reaction from ingesting it. Viper was taken to to a veterinary hospital in Southport, where he was pronounced dead.

Zeller says he and Viper were more than just partners.

“They come home with us,” said Zeller. “They interact with us. He was a member of my family.

He says Viper’s final act of service was a testament to how much the canines do for the community.

“They can find that lost child that’s in the woods that we couldn’t find,” said Zeller. “They can smell the odor of narcotics inside a car or inside a home.”

He and Viper would train for six hours every week to keep them as sharp as possible. They were hardly ever separated during their time together and he says things just won’t be the same.

“I think the hardest thing is going to be when I go back to work, not putting him in the car, not having him ride around with me,” said Zeller. “It’s going to be tough.”

There will be a memorial service in Viper’s honor Tuesday morning at 11 a.m. at the Sheriff’s Office in Bolivia.


Comment on this Story

  • Nancy

    So sorry for your loss,,,God has big plans for you.every thing happens for a reason and you did your part. Thank you for a job well done. you will be missed. Thank you,,,,,,,,,Viper

  • Guest111

    I think you are Commonsense. .. with a new name on the posts.

  • Andrew

    Thoughts and prayers to Viper and Zeller. I know howntough it is to go to work and leave a partner behind. although my partner just retired and I still have him with me, it was a tough adjustment. We all deal with this in one form or another and it never gets easier, just must honor their memory forgiving the ultimate sacrifice.

  • The Rainbow Bridge

    inspired by a Norse legend

    By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

    Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

    Where the friends of man and woman do run,

    When their time on earth is over and done.

    For here, between this world and the next,

    Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

    On this golden land, they wait and they play,

    Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

    No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

    For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

    Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

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    They romp through the grass, without even a care,

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    All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

    Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

    For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

    Together again, both person and pet.

    So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

    The time of their parting is over at last.

    The sadness they felt while they were apart,

    Has turned into joy once more in each heart.

    They embrace with a love that will last forever,

    And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.


  • What a dork.

  • sailboat2323

    big deal. I am so impressed. Do you sleep in the dog house with him, lift his leg when he has to go? You talk like one of the jackbooted thugs patroling our streets.

  • SBlas

    I personally know how K-9s are trained since I live with one you idiot. It was 100 acres of land and the dog was off lead. He didn’t “let” him eat the drugs….you really are an idiot. I have an idea….why don’t you go out there and sniff for drugs as I am sure no one would miss you!

  • SBlas

    If you knew anything about K-9 dogs and their handlers you wouldnt be so ignorant as to post this. Before the uneducated speak they should know what they are talking about. Dogs trained in Brunswick County are trained to a certain standard, every time. This dog, and this handler, who put thier lives on the line every day so that ignorant fools like you can sleep in peace every night, were doing what they were trained to do. The dog accidentally punctured the package and ingested the substance. And the handler was right there to care for him. If there is any idiot in this instance, it is clearly you. Those dogs and their handlers defend your safety and you should be ashamed to relish the freedom they provide. How dare you, you ignorant fool!

  • unknown

    Really???? Are you on something? Cars are people too??? Viper deserves to be honored and to make a joke of the situation shows how incredibly ignorant some people really are. Just answering……

  • Guest12

    Very well said JaneQpublic servant…

  • Guest123

    that some people shouldn’t take the time to write mindless, worthless comments! Really? The officer LET the dog eat a bag of cocaine? Use some sense. The dog’s teeth punctured the bag as he was returning it to his handler to drop at his feet as he was TRAINED to do. If stupidity was a crime, you would be one of the first ones charged!

  • ILM

    The dog OD? WOW that must have been good stuff!

    Do they have memorials when the cops crash their cars too? Just asking……

  • Guest911

    I am only concerned that the animal died for no reason. Police love playing there game and forgert life is REAL, not a game. Any officer not able to control his animal should be charged the same as an indivdual for the death of his dog. He should also NOT be allowed to own ANY animals until he is deemed fit by the courts. When I first heard this story I thought the dog was killed in the line of duty protecting the public. Instead it died from stupidity because the officer let it eat a bag of cocaine. He was laughing and joking with his buiddies as the dog tore the bag and spread the drugs all over the floor. Yeah buddy, funny right? Can anyone say ‘idiot’? Stupidity is not a crinme, but it should be!!!

  • GuestLee

    My understanding is that Viper’s teeth accidentally punctured a bag of cocaine.

    Knowing the so-called “justice system”, the perps will probably get off with community service.

  • tom march

    “Exposed”…What’s that mean?? Maybe they need to give this barney fife a stuffed animal if he was dumb enough to let his dog get into contact with the drug. He’s supposed to detect, dummy, not taste.

  • Andy

    I don’t live in NC but I can assure you all that Viper served his community and this nation.

    Was he a dog? Yes
    Was he a Police officer? Yes

    Disagree over things all you guys want, and name call and make fun of each other all you want. This dog died while trying to make this community a safer place to live.

    We should all respect that.

    Thank you Viper, you are loved and missed.

  • JaneQpublicServant

    The bickering going on here is rather ridiculous, if you ask me. This is a public forum for people share their opinion. And although I don’t agree with a couple of the ones being posted, I still respect the fact that they have the right to have them. Have we come so far from the basic principles of humanity that we must resort to name calling and arguing? K9 Officer Viper, was a great asset to the BCSO and to those that loved him, he was a charished companion and friend. Unfortunately, he made the ultimate sacrifice this weekend trying to help those in need and keep this county safe from the criminal element. Does he deserve a memorial? In my opinion, yes, he does. Not everyone can understand this, and that is fine. However, at least show some respect to those that are in mourning and reach deep down and find your compassion and empathy and try to refrain from your disrespectful reproach. Let those that wish to remember Officer Viper have their memorial and stop trying to demean their grief. My heartfelt sympathy goes to the BCSO, Deputy Zeller and his family, and all those whose lives may have been touched by Officer Viper.

  • marcia

    I agree. It’s ignorant people that don’t understand the duties of a k9 officer. All officers put their lives on the line everyday to try and make our communities a better place and for someone to dishonor those who have died in the line of duty is perverse. Things happen and the same could happen to you.
    Thank you k9 viper you are a hero to us!

  • Move then

    Hats off to all the good people out there that understand this is not a dog but a loyal servent of the people. Emphasis on loyal. If we had more humans like this four legged officer his would be a better country. If you don’t like the story or your worried about your tax dollars you don’t have to comment. This story was obviously not
    meant for you. Go blame someone who deserves it for wasting your dollars. Better yet shut the hell up and realize we don’t care about your opinion. We care about a fallen officer of the law. And yes I hope they use my money to put these drug dealers away for killing an officer of the law. If you don’t like it move. We want miss you are your few tax dollars at all!

  • Kiki McAdam

    I like your thinking, Guest111! I’m sure Viper was doing what he loved doing, but this still makes my heart hurt…for the loss of a brave officer and for those who remain behind missing him.

  • Guest111

    First question: What kind of chemical did Viper get in to? Was it something the drug dealers put out to do this to the dogs? Second question: Are these thug cretins going to be charged with murder of a police officer?

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