PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A K-9 who was a member of the SEPTA Transit Police has been reunited with his family following a controversial separation.
The Galanti family has been fighting with SEPTA after K-9 Abal and the family were suddenly forced to separate.
Abal lived with Officer Richard Galanti–who works for SEPTA–and his family in Wenonah, New Jersey, for the past five years.
The German Shepherd-Akita mix was there in 2014 when the family’s 14-year-old son, Ben, was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike.
SEPTA recently announced Abal would be placed in a kennel and reassigned to another officer. Galanti is being transferred out of the K-9 division, according to his wife, Nicole.
The Galantis say they’re not sure why the transfer happened, though they believe it may have to do with a uniform change.
In 2015, SEPTA directed K-9 officers to update their uniforms. Officer Galanti refused, saying he should be reimbursed for the cost and he filed a grievance with the union in December.
“I can’t imagine it would be over a jacket that costs $150,” Nicole said.
Nicole Galanti offered to buy the department a new dog. She also started an online petition to keep the dog, which gathered more than 8,000 signatures.
The department refused, and Officer Galanti had to surrender Abal.
On Friday, SEPTA said Abal is now able to live with the Galanti after all, saying that after a consulting with a doctor, Abal would be retired from active duty due to health issues.
SEPTA released this statement on Friday on the matter:
When SEPTA Transit Police K9 Abal began training with his new handler, it was noticed that he was having some difficulties physically performing his duties. A subsequent evaluation by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital revealed that he has a degenerative bulging disc in his back. Abal has been treated by the doctors, and is resting comfortably.
Due to the strenuous nature of the work required of a dual-purpose explosive detection and patrol K9, SEPTA, in consultation with the doctors at Penn, today made the decision to retire Abal from active duty. As a pet, Abal should have a healthy future ahead of him, and SEPTA is grateful for his service over the last five years. Abal will be made available for adoption to the family of his former handler, Ofc. Richard Galanti.
New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and Congressman Bob Brady also backed the Galanti family to get the dog back home.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)