That sound you hear might be a sigh of relief coming from Marietta, Ohio. Retired police officer Matthew Hickey might be able to adopt his longtime K-9 partner after all.
Hickey, who recently hung up his uniform, had previously been told that the dog, Ajax, could not retire with him, as the animal still was still capable of working with the police force. He had offered to buy the dog for $3,500, but was told that would violate an Ohio state law.
On Monday, The Athens Messenger reported that Hickey had been offered a police auxiliary position and would be able to keep Ajax with him as a fellow auxiliary officer.
“At a time in our nation’s history when support for law enforcement has fallen to a low not seen in decades, the outpouring of support for a former canine police officer, Matt Hickey, and his canine partner, Ajax, is the one bright spot in the frenzy surrounding this issue,” Marietta Police Chief Rodney Hupp said during a press conference, as reported by the Messenger.
Hupp also said that Hickey had been offered the position of auxiliary officer on January 28, three days after Hickey had retired, and sort of blamed him for allowing the situation to escalate the way it had — especially when everyone’s major takeaway has been “OMG THEY WON’T LET HIM KEEP HIS DOG.”
“At every juncture, former officer Hickey chose to omit that he and I had a plan for K-9 Ajax’s future and that the resolution kept Ajax with Hickey at no cost to him,” Hupp said. “Each time former officer Hickey was interviewed by various media sources, he had an opportunity to tell the truth and (defuse) the situation and to explain that the city he served was not composed of or lead by cold, heartless and greedy people.”
Regardless, if Hickey physically can and does accept this new position, part of his official duties will be as “keeper of Ajax.”
A GoFundMe account that was set up for Hickey has currently raised more than $70,000, far exceeding its original $3,500 goal. It’s unclear exactly what will be done with the money, although the page states that the “remaining” funds would be donated to Vested Interest in K-9s, an organization that purchases bulletproof vests for K-9 officers and donates them to police departments. It sounds like Ajax might be with Hickey, free of charge, so all of the funds would be technically become remaining funds.