Harry the K-9 could be coming home



The dog that has captured the hearts of an entire town might be coming home.

A police K-9, named Harry, could be reunited with his former handler, Rob Morningstar.

Morningstar, a deputy with the Pickaway County Sheriff’s office, resigned as a K-9 unit from the Circleville Police Department in January before he had applied to be a deputy. Initially, the officer thought he could buy his partner, Harry, from the town and retire him; the city tentatively agreed.

But after two months of the dog being decommissioned and living with the Morningstar family, the city changed their mind and said the sale of the dog to the family would be illegal. The dog was taken back to the police department while the city was looking to hire a new officer to pair with Harry.

Morningstar was devastated. His wife, Amie, a former Circleville firefighter, posted the heartbreaking story on Facebook; it took off like a wildfire. A Change.org petition garnered nearly 100,000 signatures from all around world.

The Pickaway County Sheriff offered to buy Harry from the city for $8,000, but the city denied that request Tuesday night, citing that a replacement dog would cost $13,000. 

On Wednesday, the police department sent their new officer to Pennsylvania to train with Harry, the mayor said.

A local group of citizens called “Bring Harry Home” lobbied council members and managed to get a special emergency meeting; that meeting took place tonight, and now, it is likely Harry is coming home.

The terms of the purchase have not been disclosed, but if a done deal, Harry would go to work at the Sheriff’s office and “to be used by the Pickaway County Sheriff’s office.”

It was mentioned at the meeting Thursday night that the city needs at least $12,000 to replace Harry, and the Sheriff’s office has reportedly agreed to write that check. Where the Sheriff’s office is getting that money has not been immediately disclosed. Previously, the Morningstar family offered to pay $10,000 and then $13,000.

The meeting Thursday night was only to authorize the law director to draft the purchase agreement.

Once that agreement is made, council will vote on the final purchase contract at a meeting on Tuesday, March 31. The money the city receives will be used to buy a new K-9, which is expected to start training in April. The final price of Harry has not be determined, other than to say “at least $12,000.”

Mayor Don McIlroy said that since the legislation passed, the officer that he claims was sent to Pennsylvania will be recalled from the kennel and return to Circleville until a new dog is available.

The Scioto Valley Guardian is the #1 local news source for the Scioto Valley. The Guardian was previously two publications, Fayette Advocate (2012) and Chillicothe Guardian (2018), respectively. Their parent company merged the two publications in 2019 -- forming The Guardian -- and expanded the coverage area to include the entire Scioto Valley.

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