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Ohio officer loses battle to keep K-9 partner after transferring departments

K-9 handlers can buy their police dogs for $1 in Ohio; the officer paid the city $1 for K-9 Bosco, but he was then ordered to return the dog, the filing states

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Bedford Heights Police Department

By Molly Walsh
cleveland.com

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A Bedford Heights police officer had to give back his K-9 partner Tuesday morning after transferring to another local department.

Officer Ryan Kaetzel said he reluctantly returned Bosco, his beloved K-9 partner of seven years, to Bedford Heights at 6:30 a.m. after recently deciding to transfer to the Strongsville Police Department.

Last week, Kaetzel sued the city, saying he should be paid overtime as the department’s K-9 handler. He filed the lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland. He has been an officer since 2011 and the K-9 handler since 2018.

On Tuesday, Kaetzel’s attorney filed an amended complaint that accused the city and its police chief, Mike Marotta, of retaliating against the officer.

Before the lawsuit, Marotta told Kaetzel that the department planned to disband the K-9 program and that the officer could have Bosco. Ohio law allows for K-9 handlers to buy their police dogs for $1 each from cities. Later, Bedford Heights reversed course and ordered Kaetzel to return Bosco.

After Kaetzel filed the lawsuit against the city, officials told him they would let him buy the dog for $1 if he dropped his suit. Kaetzel paid the city $1 on July 24, but he was ordered to return the dog on Monday, according to the filing.

Rumors spread on social media that Bosco was going to be euthanized, but that is not the case, according to the city.

A friend of Kaetzel created a GoFundMe to raise money to buy Bosco from the city because the dog is “part of that family.”

The police department plans to reassign Bosco to another officer, according to a statement from the city.

“Bosco has been, and will continue to be, a valued and cherished member of the city’s police department…,” the release said.

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