WENONAH — Abal was the Galanti family's comfort after they lost 14-year-old child Ben in 2014, when he was hit by a car while riding his bike. Now the shepherd is being separated from the family in order to continue its K9 work with the SEPTA Police Department — and the Galantis are devastated all over again.

NJ.com reported that SEPTA Officer Richard Galanti received notice in March that he was being transferred to patrol and would have to surrender Abal, who has become the family pet over the last five years. The Galantis previously had another K9, Zora, for more than 10 years, the report said. When Zora was retired by the police department, the dog lived with the family for the rest of its life.

Nicole Galanti's son with Abel
Nicole Galanti's son with AbelNicole Galanti's son with Abel (Nicole Galanti via change.org)

But SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said on Twitter Monday that an officer "is not entitled to keep the K9 with which s/he was assigned" when transferred off that unit, and that officers should "know that their partner is not a family pet."

A Change.org petition addressed to Nestel had garnered nearly 12,000 signatures as of Wednesday morning, and the NJ.com report said that the Galantis have even offered to buy a new dog for the department at a cost of more than $7,000. Yet all that could not stop Abal from being surrendered to a kennel on Tuesday morning, the report said, in order to continue its K9 career with another partner.

"As I sit here heartsick with tears falling, I am haunted by my 10 year old crying himself to sleep. My daughter, sobbing, and my husband trying his best to stay strong for us," Nicole Galanti wrote in the petition.


Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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