D'awwwwwww, Internet people, you guys are great!
I mean, don't get me wrong, usually, you are an awful hell pit where the faceless miscreants use comment sections on Reddit threads to call Demi Lovato fat. But today, you did something super nice!
Police officer Matthew Hickey assumed he'd spend his retirement with his police dog, Ajax. The pair worked together in Marietta, Ohio for the past few years, with Hickey logging over 26 years of service before being joined by his K9 companion.
But, Hickey soon found out his assumption wouldn't be the case. Due to Ohio law, the police department could not let Hickey buy Ajax, who reportedly cost $3,500, and opted, instead, to put Ajax up for auction.
Hickey told WCMH,
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.
Here's the issue. In standard cases, police officers are allowed to purchase their K9 partners when the dogs retire for $1, but Ajax isn't the one retiring here. Ajax is still technically a healthy and active police dog who is valuable to the city.
Paul Bertram, Marietta city law director, told reporters,
This particular unit, this particular dog, out of the unit, state and federal money may have been used. 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.
He also pointed out Ohio state law code 9.62, stating officers who retire with active K9 partners aren't allowed to own their dogs.
The code reads,
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.
But, the Internet doesn't care about the law! If there's one thing people online hate, it's when people come between other people and their dogs.
A Change.org petition was started, amassing over 24,000 signatures wanting to see Ajax remain with Officer Hickey.
The city responded to the public's anger with the law through a post on its Facebook page.
A GoFundMe campaign was also started, and it raised over $64,000 for Hickey to bid on Ajax at auction.
With the money raised, it is assumed Hickey will be able to outbid the other people in the auction. Any leftover funds will reportedly be donated to an organization providing protective vests to active K9 units.
Hickey still thinks there is an obvious need for a change in the law.
He told WTAP,
I think we need to start at the state and get legislation passed to where officers that retire in good standing gets the k-9, either medically or if they have their time in when they retire they get the dog, either for a dollar or whatever. There is a bond between us and it's very special and I would hate to lose my buddy.
The auction is reportedly set to take place sometime in the next few weeks, with a firm date to be set on February 4. Officials said they'll only allow other active or retired police officers, as well as trainers of police dogs, to bid.