There are not a lot of bonds stronger than the one between a police canine handler and their devoted dog. That bond was threatened when an obscure state law in Ohio almost ripped Officer Matt Hickey away from his cherished canine Ajax.
The problem started when Hickey was forced to retire due to health reasons. At 5 his dog Ajax was still too young to retire from the force, so Hickey offered to purchase him for $3,500 - a value set by the city of Marietta.
Everyone agreed, but then the city's law director stumbled upon an old state law that forbade Hickey from owning city property.
“The dog is property of the city of Marietta,” Paul Bertram III, told a news station. “Because it is personal property, it is treated like a shovel. That’s just the way it is.”
That obviously didn't go over well with Hickey.
“He’s with me 24/7,” Hickey said. “He goes with me on my vacation; there’s a tight bond. I’m his pack leader.”
He launched a legal challenge that brought the attention of the nation with it. He received over $70,000 to pay for his fight, and to purchase Ajax at auction if it came to that.
Finally Hickey received the call he should have gotten in the first place, and it was even better than he thought it would be.
The same lawyer that found the problem also found the solution. When a canine unit disbands the handler is allowed to purchase the dog for $1.
So now Officer Hickey gets to enjoy retirement with his friend, and hold on to the $3,499 he saved up too.