A former police officer who gained global attention when he was unable to keep his K-9 companion after retiring late last month has purchased his old partner.
And it only cost him a buck.
Matthew Hickey had planned to take his K-9 partner of four years with him when he retied from the Marietta, Ohio, police department on Jan. 28, but was told a state law prohibited him from doing so. City officials were able to come up with a solution, and last Thursday the retired police officer was able to take Ajax home for good, NBC4 reports.
“These people are… they’re kind and they’re considerate and they want to make things right,” Hickey told the station after paying the $1 to keep Ajax. “God bless them.”
The story first came to light after Hickey learned Ajax was unable to retire with him due to an Ohio state law, which in part says if a law enforcement officer leaves the unit, he or she forfeits the right to purchase their dog. Another part of the code says, “officers are allowed to purchase their K-9 partners when the dog is retired for just one dollar.” The city reportedly planned to auction off Ajax.
The decision caused an uproar, and a GoFundMe page was started to help raise enough money for Hickey to purchase Ajax at auction.
On Feb. 1, Hickey reportedly was offered a police auxiliary position that would allow him to keep Ajax as a fellow auxiliary officer, but Hickey said he could not take the offer because of health concerns, according to his GoFundMe page.
As the city was working on the matter and fending of swarms of angry dog lovers and law enforcement supporters, city of Marietta Law Director Paul Bertam found a discrepancy between Ohio Revised Code Section 9.62 and the Ohio Administrative Code. The attorney reportedly said since there is no cross-reference between the two codes, Hickey should be able to purchase the dog for one dollar.
“I’m speechless and I’m so very grateful,” Hickey told the NBC affiliate. “There’s no way I can thank everybody. I’m so thankful and relieved.”
According to Hickey, the more than $70,000 raised via GoFundMe now will go to a group called Vested Interest, which helps provide bulletproof vests for K-9 dogs. He also, reportedly, along with Ohio State Representative Andy Thompson, is working to update the House bill language so that in the future, it will be clear for “future handlers to acquire the animal for one dollar upon leaving the force.”