Retired Cop May Get To Keep His Best Friend After All
A former police officer, heartbroken over plans to auction off his longtime canine partner, may get to keep his best friend after all.
At a press conference on Monday in Marietta, Ohio, the city's police chief offered Matthew Hickey a role as an auxiliary officer - a designation that would allow the recent retiree to legally keep Ajax the police dog.
"I am prepared to do everything I can so that dog, which I know you love, stays with you," police chief Rodney Hupp said.
It's an abrupt turnaround from just days earlier, when Hickey was told his retirement from the department would spell the end of his 4-year friendship with Ajax.
Ajax, who is 6 years old, was still seen as having a long future of police work ahead of him. Instead of joining Hickey, who called the dog "one of my children," Ajax was slated for an upcoming auction.
"The dog is property of the city of Marietta," Paul Betram III, the city's law director, told WBNS-10. "Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That's just the way it is."
But this so-called shovel dug deep into the hearts of animal lovers around the world.
Legions of people contributed to a GoFundMe page for the cause. Originally targeting $3,500 - the funds Hickey had thought he needed to buy Ajax - the donations have since skyrocketed to around $60,000.
The man who started the online campaign, Corey Orr, told CNN remaining funds will go toward buying bullet- and stab-proof vests for the department's other canine officers. The jackets, from Vested Interest in K9s, cost around $1,050 each. He "expected a few thousand (dollars in donations) but nothing like this."
The media glare, however, seems to have gotten under the skin of Marietta officials.
At Monday's press conference, Hupp told reporters they had been working on a plan to keep the pair together before the fundraising and social media campaign.
He seemed to blame Hickey for going public with the story.
"You could have stopped this train wreck, simply by saying, 'They're working on a solution,'" he said.