Retired Marietta, OH, K-9 Officer Matt Hickey says he's spent every day for the past three years with his partner Ajax. But this bond could be broken forever, reports WBNS.
It all started when Hickey decided he wanted to retire. Hickey is 57 and Ajax is going on 6. Ajax has the potential to work six more years.
"I was under the assumption I would end up with the dog [when I retired]," he said.
Hickey says he offered to pay the city $3,500, which is what the city says Ajax was worth. He says he talked to his chief about this and had the money in hand the day he retired.
But it turns out it wasn't as easy as Hickey thought. In the eyes of the law, Ajax isn't just a dog.
"The dog is property of the city of Marietta," Marietta Law Director Paul Betram III said. "Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That's just the way it is."
The cold hard truth about Ajax is that the city must sell him to the highest bidder at auction, which may not be the one person who knows him best.
Ohio law provides that officers can buy their dogs if the dog is older, or injured in the line of duty.
Hickey hopes his case will motivate legislators to change the law to make it easier for K-9 handlers to buy their dogs.
The city has another K-9 officer, so they don't need Ajax, but Mayor Joe Matthews tells WJW that his hands are tied and they must auction Ajax. The mayor says they want Hickey to be able to buy Ajax, and the city's law director is trying to come up with a solution to the issue.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Hickey bid on Ajax. In just one day, that account raised $17,765 of $3,500 goal. The plan is for any money to be donated to a K-9 fund to help purchase bullet-resistant vests for K-9 law enforcement officers.