COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Retired Marietta Police Officer Matt Hickey will get to keep his K9 Ajax.
Mayor Joe Matthew says Hickey has purchased the K9 for $1.00.
The mayor says the city’s legal consultant with state attorneys make sure all laws were followed.
Hickey handed over that $1 to the city this afternoon around 2:30 and took Ajax home for good.
“I’m speechless and I’m so very grateful. There’s no way I can thank everybody. I’m so thankful and relieved,” says Hickey.
“There are really good people out here. They’re kind, they’re considerate and they want to make things right. God bless them.”
“I hope the folks who were so quick to jump on the city of Marietta via social media will no realize the city was always working to let Ajax stay with Mr. Hickey. We just had to follow the law,” says Mayor Matthews.
Paul Bertam, law director for the City of Marietta, announced in a statement that he believes Matthew Hickey should be allowed to purchase the dog for $1.
He said that under Ohio Revised Code Section 9.62, if a canine unit is disbanded, the canine may be purchased for $1 by the law enforcement officer who was assigned to it. Bertam wrote that there is no technical definition of “canine unit” in the Revised Code. However, in the Ohio Administrative Code, a “canine unit” is described as “a canine handler who shall be a sworn law enforcement officer and a canine.”
Bertam said that there is no cross-reference between the two codes and recommended that, since Hickey and Ajax have technically been disbanded a a canine unit, Hickey should be able to purchase the dog for $1.
State Representative Andy Thompson told NBC affiliate WTAP-TV that the state is now working on an amendment to House Bill 60 to include a provision for police dogs and their handlers. The updated language would make it clear for future handlers to acquire the animal for one dollar upon leaving the force.
“We do really want to address this issue, no doubt about it. These animals are unique and they have a special bond with the officers that they work with, so we want to make sure we have a common sense approach that makes it easier for villages, cities and political subdivisions to resolve this issue,” says Thompson.
Social media exploded this past weekend with more than $70,000 being raised via GoFundMe.com to help the pair stay together. Officer Hickey says that money will instead go to a group called Vested Interest, which helps provide bullet proof vests to K9 dogs.