A police officer from Ohio has received some very good news. Matt Hickey, who recently retired after being in the police force for 30 years, will be able to keep his K-9 companion Ajax, officials said.
After he retired from the force, Hickey tried to purchase the dog from the city.
"Ajax is a family member; he's one of my children," Hickey told CNN affiliate WBNS.
According to NBC News, Hickey was informed that since Ajax is considered to be city property and was able to work for at least a couple more years, the pooch would ultimately be auctioned off to the highest bidder rather than going home with him. Ajax is estimated to be worth $3,500.The retired officer from Marietta, Ohio, and Ajax have been partners for four years. He wasn't ready to say goodbye to his beloved companion without a fight.
"I got upset when they were gonna come and take my dog away," he said."Officer Hickey came in when he retired and wanted to buy the dog right then, but we couldn't do it," Marietta Mayor Joe Matthew told NBC News. "It's impossible. I would have loved to, but the state law won't allow us."
According to Ohio's state law, K-9 dogs who are severely injured or are simply too old to work are offered to the police officers for only $1. However, Ajax is not old enough to retire from the police force just yet.
When Hickey took his complaint to the media, the community decided to come together and raise enough money so that he will be able to purchase the K-9 pooch. According to USA Today, a GoFundMe page was set up for the animal, and as of Tuesday, the site made approximately $69,000.
Hickey said in a statement to CNN that the support he was receiving from caring folks changed him.
"I kind of retired wanting to be a hermit and left alone because I worked the midnight shift since '96 and I was jaded, but now I am a changed man because of the support," he said.
During a press conference, Police Chief Rodney Hupp said that Hickey will be able to keep Ajax just as long as he re-enters the force as an auxiliary officer.
"I am prepared to do everything I can so that dog, which I know you love, stays with you," Hupp said.
Corey Orr, who runs the GoFundMe page, said that Hickey has not accepted the auxiliary position and things still continue to remain unresolved with the city as well as with the Marietta Police Department.
"As stated in the press conference the offer of an auxiliary officer had been considered, but has not and cannot be offered because it has to be approved before it can be offered," Orr said in a post on the GoFundMe website.
UPDATE: Officer Hickey is taking the auxiliary position to keep Ajax.
When the job offer was originally given to him, Hickey said that it was not solid or concrete at the time.
"He said, 'We'd look into it. Get back with ya.' Then never got back to me, they never said anything more," Hickey said.
Now, Hickey, the city, and the police department have managed to work out their differences and all came to a mutual agreement: Hickey will keep Ajax if he will become an auxiliary officer.
"I mean to save my dog. I will probably go to the auxiliary," Hickey stated.
"This is the best possible resolution for the city, the Police Department, former officer Hickey and Ajax," the Marietta Police Department said in a statement.
This is truly a very happy ending for both Hickey and his companion Ajax. In the meantime, any leftover money on the GoFundMe site will go to various charities as well as any other organizations that work with K-9 police dogs.
Hickey officially retired from the police force on Monday, January 25.
Latest Update: Despite numerous reports, Hickey hasn't accepted the auxiliary position.
It was originally reported that retired police officer Matt Hickey has accepted the auxiliary position, but that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. In fact, Corey Orr said in a recent update that the matter still remains unresolved and Hickey's doctor hasn't cleared him to return back to active duty yet.
"The offer of auxiliary officer had been considered, but has not and can not be offered because it has to be approved before it can be offered," Orr stated in his original post. "Furthermore, Officer Hickey still has not been cleared by his doctor to return to active duty whether that be regular or auxiliary duty," he said in a most recent post.
"So none of this has been resolved or settled upon," he added. In the meantime, stay tuned for the latest updates on this story.
[Image via GoFundme]