Donations Pour In After Retiring Officer Told His K9 Will Be Auctioned Off

Update 2/1/16:  The city of Marietta has announced that Officer Hickey can keep his dog as long as he becomes an auxiliary officer.  This decision comes after a weekend of social media chatter that raised over $65,000 so Officer Hickey could purchase the dog in an upcoming auction the city was to hold to sell K9 Ajax rather then let his retired handler have him.  You can read our original story below.


marieta1When Marietta (OH) police officer Matthew Hickey announced his retirement this week after 34 years of service, his story went viral for reasons no one could have predicted.

Hickey has been a K9 officer for the last four years and since he is the only K9 officer in the department, he assumed that his retirement would mean his dog, Ajaz, would retire with him and his family.

But Ajax was purchased by the city and according to Ohio State Law 721.15, if the estimated value of city property is $1,000 or more it must be sold in an auction to the highest bidder.

To determine the dog’s value, the city hired an outside vendor who said Ajax was worth $3,500

Hickey offered to purchase the dog for $3500 but the city will move forward on an auction.

Hickey’s family including his daughter are distraught.

Details on the auction have not been released yet but recent fundraising is attempting to make sure that Hickey and his family get to take Ajax home.

At the time of this report, over $55,000 has been raised on Go Fund Me and over 20,000 signatures had been gathered on

While these funds give us confidence that Ajax will be able to go home with his family, Law Officer Editor In Chief Travis Yates has an idea for the city of Marietta,

“If Ajax is valued at $3500 then any amount that Officer Hickey has to donate over that to win this bid, the right thing to do is to donate those excess funds to the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation that supports K9 Units and Service Dog programs across the United States.”

You can give that advise to the city of Marietta by contacting them at:

Facebook Comments




  1. G.Conawsy

    It’s truly despicable that this dog was not given to his handler at his retirement WITH OUT CONDITIONS,…..
    Clearly these people who make these rules have there head up there ass. Heartless FOOLS.

  2. Linda

    It should have never come to this. It is bad press for the Department and Police do not need this during these trying times. As Officer Hickey tried to do the correct thing and pay the city for Ajaz an amount should have been agreed upon and honored. Poor treatment for someone who gave 34 years of loyal duty. And Ajax has earned the right to be a full time member of Officer Hickeys family.

  3. Barbara

    Get the statute changed immediately.

  4. Neli Mongin

    City officials you should be ashamed of yourselves. Officer Hickey was the only K9 handler in your department, with that being said Ajax should have been allowed to have been retired/purchased by the handler without any strings attached. Where are the family values, the brotherhood mentality that supposedly runs through your ranks. Somebody!!!! Please be level-headed and do the right thing; accept the agreed upon auctioned amount (no strings attached) from Officer Hickey and let Ajax remain with his original handler.

  5. ken taylor

    you are treating this k9 who has protected everyone on police dept like he is a piece of meat………..there has to be a law against this……………………………….

  6. Joy Taylor

    Give this officer his K9 dog, and the love of their lives………………………what is happening to this world………………………………………….? he has been with this family for 4 years I believe and only sick people would take him away from them………………..and auction him off to strangers……………………..this is called animal abuse………..and also human abuse, I have never heard of a K9 being auctioned off……………………………..

  7. Sheryl Pena

    From Michigan , another reason to not like Ohio, DO THE RIGHT THING !!!!!!!! GEEZ!!!!!

  8. kellie

    They can take their protocol and stick it. This is wrong and they know it. Let the poor man have his dog, let him buy the dog for what it is valued at. Such a shame. such a sham

  9. Lennie Engel

    As a family member of a German Shepherd, all I can say for sure is, they are the most loyal soul you will ever encounter. No one will ever break their bond and no momentary value can ever be placed on their love. Let him be with his family.

  10. Joanne De Vito

    Officer Hickey and his family should be allowed to purchase Ajax at the $3500.00 and not go to bid. Have a heart know that this dog has worked hard for you and has taken care of his partner, he has grown to love his partner and the family. He should not be auctioned like some piece of furniture! The extra money that was raised should be used to get and train other K9’s!

  11. Kim Black

    Ajax should have been retired and GIVEN to Officer Hickey. To treat the dog like any other piece of city property (desk, chair, car) is appalling!

  12. Lynn Garza

    It IS expensive to train a K-9 , but 4 years of service, of putting himself out there should help off set the price. I’m proud to have called Ohio my home for several years, but THIS is an embarrassment. The officer offered to pay for the dog, he should have been allowed to do so. The fact that this incredible amount of money has been raised should TELL you how wrong this is.
    Some one else suggested using any excess money for K-9 vests, which is a great idea.As you may have gathered by now, people are watching, and it’s not looking good for Marietta.

  13. Kaye

    I’m from Ohio an I’m ashamed of Ohio how they treated that animal, let him retire with he’s parter.

  14. Maryanne B

    Yay..its the right thing to do…happy for you Officer Hickey..

  15. C.L.

    What a crappy Police Department!! I am just not believing that they would do that to an Officer after 34 years of service, what a slap in the face, they ought to be ashamed. Rules or policy, well, sometimes it should just be about what is right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Melinda Poole

    I understand that that the reason Ajax had to be auctioned is that “property” of the city must be auctioned off when it is no longer needed. I find it somewhat disturbing that he is considered the “property” of the city, much as an old police car or office desk, rather than a living member of the police force that protects the citizens of Marietta. It shows a lack of respect for his training and the four years of performance of his duties as a K9 officer.

  17. Heike Plumb

    The City of Marietta should remember they are elected, I bet Election will be coming.So let this Officer have he’s K-9 Partner.

  18. Megan

    Ohio, you should be ashamed of yourself and your law. You need to change the law now so that in the future, you can do what is right the first time without being shamed by social media.

  19. Evans

    Excuse me but does this mean if I was high bidder in California for Ajax I would be expected to become an auxiliary officer? I wonder if the Bundy’s know where Marietta Ohio is? I hope any other police officer who was thinking of becoming a K-9 officer knows not to trust Marietta, Ohio as a city who “cares” or can be “trusted” to have the best interest of their employees at heart.



  21. Destiny

    Strings attached pet adoption seems fishy to me. Most agencies allow handlers to adopt their retired K-9 partner for a small fee, like $1. If the handler does not want the K-9 it is then put up for adoption. They are not doing this retiring officer any favors trying to save face but still screwing it up royally.

  22. ED ATON


  23. Linda

    This kind of defeats the purpose of both Mr. Hickey retiring AND the gofundme donations that were made so he can keep Ajax. Why not just say, if you don’t retire you’ll still be a K9 officer. So, what about the money that was raised? Is the City of Marietta going to collect it

  24. JoAnm

    That precious hero is not a feeking file cabinet to be auctioned. What is wrong with those people?? All I can say is karma doesn’t just apply to what you do to humans.

  25. Dennis

    It would be great if Officer Hickey would go to the auction and bid $1.00 and nobody bid against him. Because anyone who would bid against him either does not know this story or is a complete moron.

  26. Larry J. Ranew

    I think this town is a disgrace and after the officer has served 34 years of his life for his community and four years with his K-9. Just remember next election day they need to get some new politicians. This is the problem with politicians. That is, they want, want and more want from their officers, but when it comes time to support them, they are nowhere to be found or throw them under the bus. Hopefully Officer Hickey will prevail. Thanks to all who have supported him.

  27. Rudi Van Vaerenbergh

    Some people really need to learn VERY urgently that the most important Things in life are simply NOT things .

    Decisions like this have absolutely nothing to do with policies or administration , inventories or asset tags but are purely depending on the common sense of the departments or agencies .

    There is a big chance that the relationship between this dog and a new handler will fail from the start due to the way Ajax was separated from officer Hickey at his retirement .

    In other words the TRUE estimated value will depend on the Trust relationship between Ajax and the potential new owner and can absolutely NOT be defined at this Time .

    There is only one place for Ajax to remain and that is with is former handler .

    By the way you just don’t separate a family , no matter the amount of Paws they have …

    May I ask you to reconsider this act asap .

  28. Joyce

    at a time we are trying to get laws passed that says if you kill an officer that is k9.. the same punishment should be as if you killed a human officer … yet this police department wants to treat him like a slave and put him on the block.. The most innocent among us and this is what you do ? he worked for you without pay .. showed up everyday with a great attitude .. did all he was asked … and you want to rip him from his family. I always support officers they put their lives on the line but I am not blind… sometimes evil and stupid wears a badge or keeps the city books.

  29. Jo Collins

    It is a sick cold hearted bunch to auction off a police dog! And, who would be getting the dog if the Police K-9 was to be auctioned off?
    Who, some one who has no idea of what a Police K-9 is, how to handle the animal? Buying just for ego or other stupid reason?
    These are not pets folks!
    This Police K- 9 needs to be with his officer handler!!
    Moreover, they spent thousand of hours on patrol together.
    This dog Belongs to this Officer.
    What kind of police K-9 department is this?
    Nothing like trying to squeeze the last penny from this poor animal that served and protected its whole life on the police force.
    Give the dog to its handler who is the Real owner of the police K_9.

  30. Sgt. Terry W. Runner

    Did anyone ask the dog what he wanted to do? Seriously, I’m sure he would have wanted to go with officer Hickey because Officer Hickey was his partner and his friend. Animals feel emotions too and he wouldn’t understand what happened to his best friend. Learn a lesson here Marietta.

  31. Deborah Dee George

    Please let Officer Hickey take Ajax to his forever home! They belong together! And, please donate any excess funds to the Ben Rothlesberger Foundation. A neighboring town was fortunate to receive a dog from Ben. It is such a blessing for the work these animals do for our citizens!

  32. Sandy

    It brings tears to my eyes, to know how much this officer loves his dog. Go officer Hickey, WITH his beloved K9. (((hugs))

  33. Endra Malyn

    If the city brought the K9, wouldn’t that be the taxpayers, if so, then the taxpayers should have the last word on this.

  34. Robin

    Does anybody know for sure that was what was going to happen ? Doesn’t sound right to me. Sorry. I couldn’t see my Dept auctioning off our Police K9 . As long as the dog is able to work , he should continue with a new partner.

    • Andrew

      Why not? Some procurement agent squirreled away in some closet reading the city’s policy for getting rid of equipment that has been declared salvage! However, exceptions are made every day to policies. Someone should have stood up and championed the request.

  35. Donna Warnick

    I’m ashamed of Ohio right now. Do the right thing and give the handler his dog. Tax dollars or donations paid for the dog anyway.
    Ohio is getting some bad PR from this whole thing.

  36. Nichole

    How about any money not used go to buy vests for K9s in other departments as well.

    • Frankie Franks

      Nichole, already ‘in the plan’ if you go to the ‘Gofundme’ Page…

  37. Pat

    This is the most sleepy way of any municipal government handing a K9 that I have ever read. It us a cruel and possibly e en illegal bidding war on a dog when the established value of the dog who may have at most another potential year of active service has been determined by a person with undisclosed expertise in police trained dogs. To hold this dog as hostage from his companion officer is in direct contrast to how police dogs are treated thought the outcry when their training companion retires or their time for retirement, which is typically 6 years comes.

    • Jonathan

      Very well said!

      What kind of a message does this send to every other police officer who relies on the bond and trust they have with their k-9 to do their job. Get close but not too close? Additionally, is this how our society wants to evolve? This is our means of repayment for bravery and dedication? “Thank you for putting your lives on the line every day for your community, now, separate from eachother because .

      A coworker is just an instrument; is this the underlining message that Ohio wants to send?


  1. Donations Pour In After Retiring Officer Told His K9 Will Be Auctioned Off – Burchell Hayman Parish Blog - […] Read more here:… […]

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