ABOVE: Mount Dora Police Officer Adam McCulloch with Mac. (Photo by Mount Dora Buzz)
It all started with a simple love of dogs and community, but then the tale takes a sad and unexpected turn.
In 2014, Mount Dora resident Kevin McMurray enrolled in the first Citizens Police Academy, a program offered by Mount Dora Police Department (MDPD) to familiarize residents with the inner workings of local law enforcement. McMurray, a technical analyst who moved to Mount Dora from Lakeland, was a devoted dog lover who rescued four-legged best friends from area kill-shelters. After his involvement in the academy and volunteering in the community, McMurray, along with his wife Amber, counted MDPD officers among their friends.
Sadly, in September, 2018, Kevin was diagnosed with cancer and passed away nine months later.
“When we found out Kevin was diagnosed with cancer, we were devastated,” said Mount Dora Police Chief Robert Bell who visited the ailing McMurray shortly before he died.
While he was sick, McMurray told Amber about his desire to fill a void at MDPD by gifting something near to his heart. Last November, Amber surprised the police department by donating $30,000 in Kevin’s name to fund the purchase, training, care and equipping of a new K9 officer. The departments two K9 officers, Stryker and Titan, had each retired for health reasons in recent years before passing away in 2018 and 2019.
As a result of the McMurrays’ generosity, last week a strong, playful 67-pound Czech Shepherd from Southern Coast K9 was welcomed by MDPD.
“We are proud to honor Kevin by naming our new K9, Mac,” said Bell. “Our heartfelt thanks go out to Amber and Kevin for their generous donation. His memory will live on through Mac.”
Mac, an alert, lanky bundle of energy, just began lengthy training with his partner, Officer Adam McCulloch. The K9 will get specialized training in narcotics detection, criminal apprehension and missing persons tracking. The certification is expected to take between 6 and 14 weeks, depending on the dog’s progress.
Although Mac needs to learn the ropes, McCulloch has a decade of experience handling canines. Most recently, he was partnered with MDPD’s K9 Officer Stryker who was credited with over 140 arrests before retiring in 2017.
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