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Ohio police K-9 handler sues city over lack of overtime while caring for dog

In a similar case in East St. Louis, the city paid $158,973 in back OT pay to three K-9 officers and 16 others who were not properly paid OT


Bedford Heights Police Department

By Adam Ferrise

CLEVELAND, Ohio— A Bedford Heights police officer sued the city last week, saying he should be paid overtime as the department’s K-9 handler.

Officer Ryan Kaetzel filed the lawsuit in federal court in Cleveland. He has been an officer since 2011 and the K-9 handler since 2018.

Kaetzel takes care of the dog on- and off-duty, including feeding, walking, grooming and training, along with other tasks such as taking it to veterinarian visits, according to the lawsuit.

The city required Kaetzel to ensure the dog was in good health, yet it never paid him for the work, the lawsuit said.

Messages left with Bedford Heights Law Director Ross Cirincione were not returned.

About three years ago, Kaetzel told police officials that he regularly worked more than 40 hours per week taking care of the dog, according to the lawsuit. The city failed to make, keep or preserve records of the hours Kaetzel worked off-duty.

Kaetzel’s attorney, Shannon Draher, accused Bedford Heights of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates that employers pay overtime.

Similar cases have been filed around the country, including one in 2021 filed by the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of three police officers in East St. Louis, Illinois, who handled the department’s K-9s.

East St. Louis ultimately paid $158,973 in back overtime pay to the three officers and 16 others who were not properly paid overtime.

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