The mayor of Minco is defending his city's decision to place a fallen soldier's former K9 partner on the auction block.
Bayca was assigned to police Sgt. Mycal Prince, who died in 2011 while deployed in Afghanistan. Now, Minco is receiving a firestorm of criticism after telling Prince's widow she could not buy Bayca.
Minco officials say the phones at city hall have been ringing off the hook ever since News 9 first aired the story of Bayca's pending auction on Tuesday. Now, a former mayor says there is no legal reason why the city cannot give the dog away. The current mayor calls that nonsense.
"We absolutely love that dog," widow Shurana Prince said.
For now, Bayca's future is uncertain. Should she become the family dog to Shurana Prince and her children? Before calling the Minco City Hall to say "yes," the mayor wants you to know, he agrees.
"Most of [the callers to city hall] just say give her the dog," Minco Mayor Watson Mitchell said. "I say, we can't give her the dog. It's against the law."
In an attempt to solve the problem, city leaders are declaring Bayca as surplus, putting her up for a blind auction and crossing their fingers. They hope she ends up with the Prince family. There is uncertainty, however, due to the fact the Bayca's auction is blind, which means no one bidding will know if their bid is indeed the highest bid.
"If something happens…[if Shurana didn't] get it, we'd just put [Bayca] back in service," Mitchell said.
Former Minco Mayor Keith McMullen tells News 9 Bayca was purchased with donated money and there is nothing illegal about retiring Bayca and giving her to the family. Current Mayor Watson Mitchell says McMullen and other political adversaries are just trying to make the current city government look bad.
Both men are at odds on the legal issue. The city attorney contends giving the dog away is against Minco municipal code. Regardless of who is right, the story is touching people's hearts and opening their wallets.
"People were wanting to set up [bank] accounts and make donations," Shurana said.
People throughout Oklahoma have contacted Shurana and the City of Minco looking for ways to give money to secure a winning bid and give the dog to the Prince family.
"I'm still going to fight for her," Shurana said.
Shurana believes Bayca will eventually be back with her family. Mitchell says he will be surprised if that does not happen. News 9 will keep you posted.