SEPTA police officer forced to surrender his K-9, despite family protests

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After five years of working together, SEPTA's Transit Police Chief announced just last week that the officer was going to be transferred out of the K-9 division and reassigned to foot patrol. (WPVI)

The news hit hard at the home of K-9 Officer Richard Galanti.

His wife, Nicole, showed us pictures of him with his SEPTA K-9 Abal, a 7-year-old German Shepherd-Akita mix.

She said through the years, her husband and Abal have received all sorts of awards and recognition from SEPTA and other law enforcement agencies. He has also been a member of the family.

"The only family the dog has ever known is ours," she said. "He comes home every night and he hangs out with us; during the day, when he's not working, we play with him in the yard."

VIDEO: Emotional photo shows police department saying goodbye to K9 officer

But after five years of working together, SEPTA's Transit Police Chief Tom Nestel announced just last week that Officer Galanti was going to be transferred out of the K-9 division and reassigned to foot patrol.

"They did not give him a reason," said Nicole. "When he asked they did not give him a reason."

Further, SEPTA said Abal was going to be placed in a kennel and reassigned to another officer yet to be hired.

The news has left the family in shock and they said they are convinced that Abal is going through some serious separation issues.

"He doesn't understand," Nicole said. "He understands that he's being taken; he thinks maybe, I don't know, that he did something wrong."

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After losing her 14-year-old son Ben, who was hit by a car in 2014 while riding his bike, Nicole has offered to use money from his life insurance to buy SEPTA a new dog.

She says she called the chief, but he declined.

In a statement, Chief Nestel said, "..While this was a difficult decision, it is the right one for a new and eager handler, our riders, but most importantly for Abal."

Meantime, Nicole Galanti organized an online petition which has garnered several thousand supporters.

"Abal is especially special to us because he was here when my son was alive," she said. "He knew Benjamin. He hung out with Ben and laid across his lap while he played video games."

SEPTA has declined to say why Officer Galanti has been reassigned.

Abal remains in a kennel as he awaits to be reassigned to a new officer.
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