World Refuses To Let Police Department Auction Off Cop's Best Friend
After a massive outpouring of support - and more than a little heat leveled at a small-town police department in Ohio - a retired officer will get to keep his beloved canine companion after all.
Matt Hickey is buying his beloved Ajax, the police dog who stood at his side for four years.
The price? $1.
"I'm speechless and I'm so very grateful," Hickey told NBC4, shortly after handing over the money and taking ownership of Ajax. "There's no way I can thank everybody. I'm so thankful and relieved."
"There are really good people out here. They're kind, they're considerate and they want to make things right. God bless them."
That leaves, oh, let's see ... $72,050 in a GoFundMe account originally set up to help Hickey buy Ajax from the city of Marietta.
When the story of the retired police officer broke earlier this month - city officials told Hickey the dog would be auctioned off - the fund was established to help him triumph at that auction.
Fighting words turned into fighting dollars.
Donations poured in from around the world. And instead of an auction for Ajax, the whole sordid saga turned into a learning moment for Marietta officials: Let no bureaucracy come between a man and his dog.
Or else the internet is going to be really, really mad.
After the story broke, the city's Facebook page was so inundated with indignation, its administrator had to write this message:
Initially, the city officials dug in their heels, citing legalese as the reason the pair couldn't be together.
"The dog is property of the city of Marietta," Paul Betram III, the city's law director, said in January. "Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That's just the way it is."
But, after further discussions with lawyers and consultants poring over state legislati - OH, JUST GIVE HIM THE DOG ALREADY.
This happy ending appears to be brought to you by an about-face, followed by an about-face.
And nobody likes their double about-faces lit up under an intense global spotlight.
At a press conference on Monday, police chief Rodney Hupp told reporters the city had been working on a plan to keep the pair together before the social media campaign.
He seemed to blame Hickey for all the fuss.
"You could have stopped this train wreck, simply by saying, 'They're working on a solution,'" he said.
And those thousands of extra dollars in the GoFundMe account? The fund organizer says the money will be donated to Vested Interest in K9s, an organization that furnishes police dogs with bullet-proof vests.
Even after that, there will likely still be more good left to do for animals.