COLUMBUS (WCMH)– A new bill being introduced in Ohio would allow K9s to retire alongside their handlers.
State Senator Lou Gentile announced the legislation after the incident in Marietta, where Officer Matthew Hickey retired and was not allowed to purchase his K9 partner Ajax.
This proposal would give cities and other local government the option not to sell police dogs or horses at auction, instead allowing the officer to purchase the animal and keep his or her partner in retirement.
Under current state law, cities in Ohio must sell police dogs in public auction if the K9 is still able to work but are unable to continue in their law enforcement role when their assigned officer retires.
The new legislation would allow a retiring officer from a canine or equine law enforcement agency, to purchase the K9 or horse the officer was assigned, at fair market value. The bill would also require approval by the city and law enforcement agency.
“This bill seeks to strike a balance between the best interest of the K9 officer and protecting taxpayers’ dollars by giving local government the authority to decide,” said Gentile. “It gives one more option to local governments and to the police officer to keep the bond between dog and handler whole if they decide that is the best outcome. There was a flaw in state law that prevented Marietta from taking necessary action to resolve this issue, and this bill will fix that.”