MARIETTA, Ohio. (WCMH) — A retired Ohio police officer may get to keep his longtime K-9 partner.
Marietta officer Matt Hickey retired suddenly on Jan. 25. Afterwards he learned he might not get to keep his K-9 partner, Ajax.
On Monday, city officials announced that Hickey could become an auxiliary officer allowing him to keep Ajax. This would remain in effect until Ajax retires from the force.
“I don’t think anybody understands that the bottom line is Ajax,” said Hickey.
For the last six years Hickey and Ajax have been inseparable. Last week when Hickey suddenly retired, that almost changed.
“I got upset when they were gonna come and take my dog away,” he said.
State law says Ajax is too young to retire and considered valuable department property.
Hickey had been quoted $3,500 to buy him, but the city council still had to approve it. When he walked in Monday and suddenly resigned, the council didn’t have the chance. The city then met with Hickey on Thursday.
On Monday, Marietta Police Chief Rodney Hupp spoke to a packed council room Monday in the city’s Armory Building.
“The city again extends to former Officer Hickey exactly the offer I put on the table Thursday. He can be an auxiliary police officer for the city of Marietta and function as an auxiliary police officer K-9 handler and keeper of Ajax,” Hupp said.
But Hickey said the offer was never solid.
“He said, ‘We’d look into it. Get back with ya.’ Then never got back to me, they never said anything more,” Hickey said.
But now, he’s considering the offer.
“I mean to save my dog. I will probably go to the auxiliary,” said Hickey.
More than $60,000 was raised for the community’s GoFundMe account to help Hickey pay for Ajax, but the city says it is just following state law. Ohio state code 9.62 states that officers are allowed to purchase their K-9 partners when the dog is retired for just $1. But Ajax isn’t the one retiring in this case.
According to the GoFundMe page, excess funds will go toward buying protective vests for other K-9 officers.