Retired Ohio Police Officer Fighting to Keep Former K-9 Partner Awaits Decision

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Retired Officer Matthew Hickey and his former K-9 partner Ajax are seen in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page.

The retired Marietta, Ohio, police officer who has been fighting to keep his K-9 partner will have to decide whether he’ll take an auxiliary position on the force so he can keep his beloved Ajax, and to prevent the city from having to auction off the German shepherd.

Matthew Hickey retired from the Marietta Police Department last month due to an injury. The former K-9 officer told CNN his original understanding was that he could keep Ajax as long as he paid the value of the working dog. Hickey said Ajax was valued between $3,500 and $4,000.

“Ajax is a family member; he’s one of my children,” Hickey told CNN affiliate WBNS.

According to Ohio law, though, a police dog must be treated as city property and sold at auction if its handler leaves the force and another handler is not available. Ajax can likely work for another five or six years, according to the police statement.

The city council will consider options for Hickey and Ajax during a meeting Thursday. On Wednesday, Mayor Joe Matthews told CNN that the Marietta City Council will officially offer Hickey the auxiliary officer position on Thursday.

“If he accepts, he will be given Ajax and have limited duties for the police department, which will be determined later,” Matthews said. “If he doesn’t accept we will have to figure out another answer, but right now that’s the only solution on the table.”

A GoFundMe campaign to help Hickey bid on Ajax had raised more than $70,000 by Wednesday morning, 20 times the department’s valuation.

Corey Orr, who set up the campaign, told CNN he “expected a few thousand [dollars] but nothing like this.” He said donations have come in from Canada, the U.K., and even from as far away as Australia.

The excess money will go to charities and organizations that work with police dogs, Orr said.

In a Facebook post, Marietta police said they approached Hickey about a possible solution that would allow him to keep Ajax, asking “if he would be willing to sign up as an auxiliary member … to be involved in community relations.”

Hickey told CNN on Tuesday that he does not wish to work for the department in an auxiliary role.

“The position was mentioned to me in the hall at the city council meeting [last week] by Chief [Rodney] Hupp. He whispered it to me in the hall but it was never officially mentioned in the meeting.”

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