Police K-9 gets new assignment as a pet - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Police K-9 gets new assignment as a pet


For the past five years, one member of the Waco Police Department has been available 24 hours a day, with no holidays and no sick time. But because of health concerns, he's now being forced off the streets and into early retirement. It's no human, though; it's Viper, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois in the K-9 unit. 

Officer Ray Woodruff, a K-9 handler, said that Viper knows when it's time to go out on a call. With the lights on and the sirens blaring, he gets excited.

"Everything we do is a game to them. They are considered dual purpose, which means they bite, but they don't bite out of aggression. They bite because it's a game to them. It's like playing tug of war with your own pet," Officer Woodruff said. 

Viper may think he's playing, but his contributions to the police department make a huge impact.

According to a release from the Waco Police, "During Viper's tenure with the Waco Police Department, his talents were utilized over 2,400 times. He conducted 344 narcotic searches and located one or more of his trained odors 112 times. Viper has searched over 90 buildings looking for possible suspects, saving countless man-hours that would have been spent by other officers. Viper has assisted on 273 warrant services and assisted on 326 felony arrests." 

Officer Woodruff said the two became close over the years.

"Being a K-9 handler is the best job in the department. I'm with my dog all the time. I'm more with my dog then I am with my family; he's my partner," Woodruff said.

That's why Woodruff knew when something was off with Viper.  "One day, Viper didn't act his normal self. He acted like he was in pain.  So I started checking on him and feeling on him and he acted like he was in quite a bit of pain."

After taking Viper to a veterinarian and putting him through some testing, they found the issues. Viper had a lesion on his spine, causing pain in his front paw and back legs. The options for surgery and rehabilitation didn't seem feasible for a dog as old as Viper. It marked the end of his career on the force. 

Now, Viper will have a new assignment. While Officer Woodruff wanted to retire with his partner, he is anticipating having Viper as his pet.

"He's enjoying it, he's spoiled. He lays around the house, just does what he wants to do," Woodruff said.

The department will have a new K-9 on the force by the end of May. 

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