BEREA, Ohio — A K-9 controversy in Shaker Heights continues tonight. On Friday, we told you about K-9 Igor, who’s staying with the city’s police department even though his handler’s moving on. People from around the area are asking Shaker Heights to reconsider.
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Monday, Officer Chad Hagan was surrounded by more than a dozen family members and friends as he was sworn into the Berea police department.
“Honestly, it’s a blessing because where he’s at right now I know they’re going to take great care of him. They are giving him, their full support,” said Hagan’s sister, Brianna Hagan.
But his new beginning comes with a lingering heartbreak.
“It’s upsetting and we’re not going to stop fighting until he’s home with us,” said Brianna.
Before coming to Berea, Brianna’s brother Chad Hagan was a K-9 handler with the Shaker Heights police department. Brianna tells News 5 he worked with his German Shepard Igor for five years.
When Chad decided to leave to be closer to home, he notified his bosses that he was looking for employment and wanted to take Igor with him. He offered them $10,000 to retire the 6-and-a-half-year-old dog early.
Instead, according to a statement released Friday, the city says Igor could retire if Chad could stay for two more years.
In its statement, the city said, “If his health remains strong, he is expected to be fit for duty, keeping the residents of Shaker Heights safe, for another three or four years.”
The Hagan family completely disagrees with that assessment.
“They think that he has three to four years left to work in Shaker, which is not true at all. He’s already 6-and-a-half-year-old. He needs to retire and come home,” said Brianna.
Don Slavik, the executive director of the United States Police Canine Association, says it’s not common for a police department to push back in these situations.
“It happens, but it doesn’t happen very often, usually the department would say to a handler who’s leaving with the dog. Yes, you can go with the dog,” said Slavik.
Adding that since the dog is in the department’s ownership, they can do so.
“They might be trying to save some money. It’s hard to speculate what their thinking is on it. So yes, there’s no doubt that is the department stock and they can do with it what they like,” said Slavik.
Shaker Heights says its laws don’t allow the chief to sell the police dog, but Slavik says it doesn’t make the situation any easier, especially due to the strong bond between an officer and their K-9.
“This is a heartbreaker because I understand the handlers’ feeling, I really do. And working so long, so much commitment every day that handler takes that dog,” said Slavik.
The family adds that Igor was taken before Officer Hagan finished his last few days. He calls every day to check in with the hope that Igor will be able to go home with him soon.
“We have a petition going around that has over 15,000 votes right now. Just in support to get Igor back home. We have a GoFundMe to try and raise more money to bring him home. And we are starting a protest that can be held next Saturday,” said Brianna.
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