Recently, people all over the world came together for one common cause: to keep a retired police officer and his K9 dog together. And it paid off.
Retired Ohio cop Matthew Hickey was finally able to buy his police dog Ajax for $1 on Thursday, but this outcome was anything but simple.
Hickey retired in January after 34 years of service, and he believed his K9 partner, Ajax, would be able to enjoy good life, too. But a state law was putting a damper on his dream.
Because Ajax was purchased by the city of Marietta (where Hickey and the canine served), he was considered property of the city. And since he is able to still work, he was to be auctioned off to the highest bidder — a person that needed to be an experienced dog handler and familiar with K9 dogs.
“When you disband the (K-9) unit, the officer or handler can purchase the dog for one dollar,” Marietta Law Director Paul Bertram told NBC News. “In this situation, the city of Marietta is not disbanding the unit. There is still another officer who has a dog, so that provision does not apply.”
So, Hickey tried to buy the dog, but according to the city, because Ajax is worth more than $1,000 (he is valued at approximately $3,500), the public must be given the opportunity to purchase him. This didn’t sit well with Hickey, or his supporters.
“I believe the law is being interpreted wrong. They are misreading the term ‘unit,’” Hickey told the outlet. “Our unit is disbanded.”
People from all over the world began rallying behind Hickey and launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe page. At the time of publication, it has raised more than $72,000, far exceeding the $3,500 goal.
After the story went viral and Hickey had a huge following, the city decided to offer an auxiliary, or volunteer, position with the Marietta Police Department, allowing him to keep his dog. But Hickey declined it, citing health issues.
So, on Thursday Bertram reversed his decision and agreed with how Hickey defined a disbanded unit — a team of two, rather than an entire police department.
“I’m speechless and I’m so very grateful. There’s no way I can thank everybody. I’m so thankful and relieved,” Hickey told NBC.
All the funds for the campaign, minus the $1, will go towards Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a nonprofit that provides protective vests for police dogs.