MARIETTA, Ohio (WCMH) — Retired Marietta Police Officer Matt Hickey is still looking for a way to keep his K9 officer.
He says is not accepting the Auxiliary Officer position the city had offered that would have allowed him to stay on as Ajax’s handler due to health reasons.
Social media exploded when news broke that Hickey was retiring, but couldn’t take his K9 with him.
State law says Ajax is too young to retire and considered valuable department property. Hickey had been quoted $3,500 to buy him, but City Council still had to approve it. When he walked in Monday, January 25th and suddenly resigned, council hadn’t had the chance.
Monday, the City of Marietta announced the plan during a contentious meeting, saying the retired officer’s duties as part of an auxiliary role would include serving as a K9 handler and keeper for Ajax. Hickey said he would consider the offer.
Tuesday night, Hickey told NBC4 that he retired due to those same health reasons and accepting the offer isn’t wise. He says he is confident another option will be found.
Social media exploded this past weekend with more than $70,000 being raised via GoFundMe.com to help the pair stay together. Hickey says funds from the GoFundMe account that don’t go toward purchasing Ajax will be spent on equipment to protect other K9s.
Ohio state code 9.62 states that officers are allowed to purchase their K9 partners when the dog is retired for just $1. But the city says K9 Ajax is not ready for retirement, and thus it must follow another part of the same code which states:
A law enforcement officer who leaves an equine or canine unit of a law enforcement agency while the police dog or horse assigned to the officer is still fit for duty forfeits the right to purchase the animal under this section.
Mayor Joe Matthews said he wasn’t yet aware of Hickey’s decision or any other plans in the works.