Corson County Sheriff’s Office K-9 passes away

The Corson County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the loss of one of their team members.

Sheriff Alan Dale says Sergeant Mike Varilek’s K-9 partner Taz passed away Sunday at the age of 12. He had served the citizens of Corson County for almost 11 years.

Taz was diagnosed with metastatic histiocytic sarcoma, an aggressive form of cancer, at the end of September, and the cancer spread very rapidly in the last couple of weeks. Aside from lumps, Taz showed no signs of slowing down until this weekend.

Since their initial certification in May of 2013, Varilek deployed Taz 768 times, and together they were responsible for the seizure of over $3,000,000 in drugs– including approximately 225lbs of marijuana, 5lbs of psilocybin mushrooms, 10lbs of methamphetamine, 1/2lb of cocaine, 1/2lb of heroin, 1/8lb of fentanyl, and thousands of pieces of drug paraphernalia.

Varilek and K-9 Taz have also assisted other area law enforcement agencies, when needed. By assisting agencies beyond their county borders, Dale says Corson County was able to receive funding from the South Dakota Attorney General’s drug control fund to help with vehicles, training and equipment for the K-9 program.

Dale says the department knew this day was coming, so a plan was already in place to get a new K-9. Varilek will be going to pick up the new K-9 later this month and will be attending a six week dog training camp starting in March. At the end of camp, Varilek and the new K-9 will be working on keeping drugs out of communities in Corson County and beyond.

Being a working dog was in Taz’s bloodlines as his father, Rocky, was a K-9 partner in Omaha. Almost all of Taz’s siblings and some of their offspring have served as K-9 partners across the Midwest.

Dale says K-9 partner Taz was a great asset and will be greatly missed by all, including Varilek and his wife Ashley, who have lost a member of their family.