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Goliad County hopes to buy new drug dog

By By LOURDES VAZQUEZ - LVazquez@vicad.com
March 21, 2010 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2010 at 10:21 p.m.

Jeff Ruppert, K-9 Deputy, hopes to get a new K-9 partner after having to retire his last partner, Zeus due to health reasons. Ruppert has worked as K-9 narcotics officer for 4 years.

TO HELP

For more information on making donations for the dogs, contact Goliad County Sheriff's office, 361-645-3451

GOLIAD - Goliad County is trying to replace Zeus.

Because of medical issues, Zeus, a German shepherd, had to retire in February, said deputy Jeffrey Ruppert, who is hoping to obtain a new drug-sniffing dog.

"We didn't want taxpayers to pay, so we asked for donations," said Ruppert, who already has raised $6,000.

Bryan Williamson, chief deputy, believes a drug dog will help detect drugs and forfeiture money.

Ruppert, who has worked with a K-9 in Gonzales and Goliad for four years, agreed.

"The dog can pinpoint where the drugs are," said Ruppert, who added that a dog would enable him to search a car with probable cause if the dog picks up a drug scent.

"We don't just focus on the drugs going north, we also focus on the money going south," said Ruppert, who busted a methamphetamine lab last year with the help of Zeus.

After pulling over a car on a traffic stop, Ruppert noticed the driver kept trying to go back to the car. Zeus was let out to search the car and the driver backed down, said Ruppert, who upon arresting the driver found a machete in the car.

Also found in the car were components for a meth lab which was en route to a house on Coleto Creek where a meth lab was found.

"Zeus really helped us," said Ruppert, who took a trip to look at possible narcotic dogs in Louisiana.

The dog, including training, costs $6,700, Ruppert said, but added that any money that donated that surpasses the amount needed will all go toward the care and equipment for the new dog.

Ruppert said the dog will not only benefit Goliad, but also surrounding counties.

"We can go out and assist if an officer has reason to suspect there maybe drugs," said Ruppert, who can conduct a free air search.

"The courts trust the dogs a bit more just on finding it and proving it in court," said Ruppert, who still visits Zeus, who lives with Ruppert's brother near Nacogdoches.

Zeus came to Goliad a little more than a year ago after Ruppert's brother-in-law responded to a call to assist paramedics in St. Augustine when the former owner of the dog had an apparent stroke on the sidewalk.

"Zeus was very protective of his owner and wouldn't let anybody near him," the deputy said.

Ruppert's brother-in-law was able to take the dog in after the owner recovered and could no longer care for him.

"I asked my brother-in-law if I could have the dog and try to train him as a narcotics dog," Ruppert said.

He cashed in his retirement from Gonzales and used the money to send Zeus to be trained in Austin.

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