A longtime Ohio police officer who recently retired wants his K-9 partner to retire with him. Instead, the city of Marietta says that his dog, Ajax, will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Last week, Officer Matthew Hickey retired after spending the last 30 years on the police force, WTAP-TV reported. He wants Ajax, who was Hickey’s partner for four years, to remain with him. He was given the “option” to purchase the dog for $3,500.
Under Ohio law, the city can’t let him buy the dog, as it stipulates the K-9 has to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Ajax is currently 5 years old and could potentially work for several more years.
“I had the money for the dog and was ready to hand it to the the chief of police, and the chief of police said he couldn’t take it,” Hickey said.
And even though the mayor of Marietta, Joe Matthews, says that the police force already has another K-9 officer, he can’t simply give it to Hickey. Matthews says they want him to be able to buy him, and they’re searching for a way to solve the problem, FOX8 reported.
“Another section of this particular law that says if a law enforcement officer leaves the unit, and in this situation, Officer Hickey is leaving the unit,” said Paul Bertram, City of Marietta law director, “that particular section says that the officer forfeits the right to purchase the dog, under this provision.”
“This particular unit, this particular dog, out of the unit, state and federal money may have been used,” said Bertram. “Therefore, we are under strict rules of how we dispose of property when we’re dealing with state and federal funds, as well as taxpayer dollars.”
After posts about Hickey’s situation went viral on Facebook, the city has been flooded with phone calls from around the world. Many have called on the city to keep the two together.
This prompted the city of Marietta to post a response on Facebook, which reads:
“Your voices are being heard and your comments are important. All posts that have been received have been passed on; however, Facebook is not the best way to reach those officials who are making decisions regarding retired Officer Hickey and K-9 Ajax. To ensure that your comments are heard, please email email@example.com”
A GoFundMe page was set up to allow Hickey to bid on Ajax in the auction. It currently has raised more than $50,000.