(FOX 9) - Family and friends are pushing to keep a K-9 with his handler after the officer retired in Corcoran, Minnesota.
Cody Vojacek said his bond with K-9 Zeke is exceptionally strong.
"For pet owners, there’s a level that you’ll understand. And for police officers, if you think of a partner, there’s a level you’ll understand. But now, you take both those things and combine it…it just makes a bond really beyond anything I’ve had in my life," he said.
Zeke’s journey to become a K-9 started in the Czek Republic. The Corcoran community donated money to continue Zeke’s training here with officer Vojcek, and for the next three years, Zeke was a busy crime-fighter with the Corcoran Police Department.
"We tracked some criminals that were very dangerous together, and I’m trusting him to keep me safe, and he’s trusting me to let him do his job but in turn keep him safe, too," Cody said.
But after the stress of the job and a partner’s suicide led to PTSD for Cody, he was forced to resign, officially leaving the department in mid-December.
Following Cody's resignation, the police chief wrote in a letter that he had to take Zeke away from him because he did not have the authority to give away a publicly funded community resource like Zeke. Ultimately, the mayor and city council will make the final decision as to what happens to the dog.
"There’s no easy answer. We want to support Zeke, we want to support Cody, we want to support the community. We want to support our police department in general... we want to do right by all of those," Corcoran Mayor Tom McKee said.
The mayor and chief said that experts they’ve consulted with say Zeke is born and bred to be a police dog and that he can still do that with another handler. But, he hasn’t worked in seven months while Cody has been on leave, and Cody says Zeke is happy working or just being a pet.
"When I’m home and I’m dressed like this, he’s off, he’s just a dog," Cody said.
And for Cody, Zeke is a bit of a lifeline.
"The last night that I actually worked, he saved me from a suicide attempt. He’ll never know it because he’s a dog, but he saved my life."
Cody and his sister are hoping to raise $15,000 to get the city a different K-9, but the mayor says it’s complex.
"There’s more to it, not just the financial nickel and diming type of decision," he said.
Zeke is currently at a boarding facility being well cared for. The mayor said the council will hold a special session in about a week to consider Zeke’s future.
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