After Controversy, Retiring Ohio Police Officer Gets to Keep K-9 Partner for $1

A “thankful and relieved” veteran police officer in Marietta, Ohio, is now headed into retirement with his best friend by his side, following a weeks-long dispute with the town he served for 34 years.

Officer Matthew Hickey’s plight hit the national stage earlier this month after social media users caught wind of his story. Though Hickey planned to retire, it was determined that his K-9 partner, Ajax, still had more years of service left, NBC News reported.

Hickey was initially told that he could buy Ajax for his value, which was set at about $3,000. But the city later said the dog was considered property, and by law, property worth more than $1,000 had to be auctioned off.

That sparked an outcry, and a GoFundMe page to raise money for Hickey to purchase Ajax at auction brought in more than $70,000 in 10 days.

The city did offer Hickey the option to become an auxiliary officer, which would allow him to keep the dog he’d worked with for four years. But Hickey said that wasn’t an option, citing health reasons, NBC reported.

Thankfully, the generous funds won’t be needed after all. Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said the city “just had to follow the law” and has found a way to let Hickey purchase Ajax for $1. The city’s law director said Thursday that since Hickey’s canine unit is considered “disbanded,” he can buy his dog for $1.

"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 NBC4i of Columbus, Ohio.

He says the money raised to help him keep Ajax will now go to another good cause: buying protective vests for other K-9 officers through the group Vested Interest. Supporters are even continuing to donate to the cause in honor of Hickey and Ajax.

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