Memorial service underway for Brunswick K-9 - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Memorial service underway for Brunswick K-9

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Memorial Tuesday morning, Source: Kristy Etheridge Memorial Tuesday morning, Source: Kristy Etheridge
Deputy Zeller and Viper Deputy Zeller and Viper
Viper and Deputy Zeller (Source: Brunswick Co. Sheriff's Office) Viper and Deputy Zeller (Source: Brunswick Co. Sheriff's Office)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Deputies with the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office lost an admirable K-9 companion this weekend.  A memorial service for Viper is taking place Tuesday morning at the sheriff's office. A large crowd is gathered outside the office.

According to the sheriff's office, the Drug Enforcement Unit was investigating subjects in the Ash area. 

K-9 Viper and his handler, Deputy Jared Zeller, were brought in to search for a large amount of cocaine.

Zeller said it was like searching for a needle in a haystack, but Viper found a kilo of cocaine in the middle of the 100-acre cornfield.  When the unit was giving up hope of finding the drugs, Viper came running up to Zeller with the package between his teeth.

"That's how he came in contact with it, because he punctured the packaging," said Zeller.

It didn't take long before Viper started acting strange. Zeller rushed him to the vet but it was too late.

"It's tough. I lost my best friend," said Zeller, with tears in his eyes.

Viper had always come through in the past. Zeller recalled a time when the dog protected him from an aggressive suspect at just the right moment.

"That's probably one of my fondest memories of him and how he just helped me. I mean he got me home that day," said Zeller.

It's hard to move on with memories of Viper everywhere he turns, but Zeller takes comfort knowing his four-legged partner died not only doing what he loved...but also making a dent in Brunswick County's drug problem.

"He definitely died for this county," said Zeller.

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