The Winter Garden Police Department officially retired its 7-year-old K-9 officer Kimber after he was diagnosed with a medical condition.
| 4:30 p.m. November 15, 2017
West Orange Times & Observer
WINTER GARDEN – After five years on the force, 7-year-old Winter Garden K-9 officer Kimber is retiring.
Kimber, who officially retired Thursday, Nov. 9, was imported from the Czech Republic and donated to Winter Garden Police K-9 handler Jeff Doyle to provide assistance in tracking down narcotics and criminals hiding from law enforcement.
The police department decided to retire Kimber when he was diagnosed with arthritis in the lower part of his spine.
“It’s a condition that is painful, so he would have had to work on medication,” Doyle said. “But at Winter Garden, believe it or not, the chief is very animal-friendly. Most agencies would have kept him drugged up and working, but (Police Chief George Brennan) said, ‘I don’t want to work him until he’s dead; let him enjoy his retirement.’ So it was Chief Brennan’s decision to retire him now. I’ve been doing this 17 years, and that’s the first time I’ve ever had a chief or a supervisor tell me to go ahead and retire the dog. He really went above and beyond, and I appreciate it.”
Keeping Kimber on pain medication for his arthritis would have reduced his expected lifespan by about two years, because his liver would have received damage from processing the medication.
Although Kimber will not receive any sort of retirement pension in the form of a free lifetime supply of bones and chew toys, he will be allowed to spend the rest of his tail-wagging years at a loving home in Orlando with his handler’s parents, Charles and Marcia Doyle.
“Kimber is going to have it a lot better in their house than at mine,” Jeff Doyle said. “I would have loved to have kept him, but the problem we have with keeping the dogs is that he sees a new dog come with me to work, and suddenly, they’re dead within a year. It’s kind of like a spouse losing another spouse in a long-term marriage — they sometimes die shortly thereafter.”
To avoid the risk of having Kimber potentially die from grief, Doyle reasoned it would be best to let his parents, who have cared for Kimber whenever he went out of town, adopt him.
Throughout his career as a K-9 officer, Kimber has successfully tracked down and caught more than 200 criminals in Winter Garden, Ocoee and Clermont and was involved in about seven high-profile cases.
“That’s what he was really good at — his tracking and hunting were phenomenal,” Jeff Doyle said.
However, just because he’s leaving the force doesn’t mean Kimber will have to give up his passion for hunting. Granted, the target has now changed from criminals to toys.
“My dad has gotten to where he hides his toys and food around the backyard before the day begins,” Jeff Doyle said. “So Kimber just spends his day finding his toys and finding his food, allowing him to still hunt around for stuff. So he’s kind of giving him a little Easter egg hunt every morning. It keeps him active.”
With a 15-foot-by-30-foot enclosure all to himself and one-half acre to run around in at the Doyle home, Kimber probably won’t miss working too much once he adjusts to the new lifestyle.
As for Doyle, he already has a new furry working companion to replace Kimber — a Belgian Malinois named Stitch after the blue alien from the Disney film “Lilo and Stitch.” But no new dog will replace the loving bond Doyle formed with Kimber after five years of working side by side and entrusting their lives to each other.
“I’ll miss him greatly,” Doyle said. “He was awesome. He was a very good dog.”