EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 5, 2013

Lawrence canine shooting story goes viral

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE - Perhaps he’ll be getting a call from David Letterman, but not for one of those “Stupid Pet Tricks” segments.

Ivan, a 90-pound German Shepherd, works for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department. He is specifically trained to work in narcotics and to assist with patrol functions.

He has gained a certain amount of international celebrity since The Eagle-Tribune reported on Sunday that he found a Ruger handgun buried in a snow bank and accidently fired it with his paw.

No one was injured in the incident early Saturday morning.

Since then everyone from CNN, NBC, USA Today, the Associated Press, Boston media and more has called the Lawrence Police Department about Ivan’s story.

Police Chief John Romero believes the interest is fueled by the public’s love for dogs. “People have tremendous respect for animals, and what happened is really improbable,” he said. “I also think people are happy the dog wasn’t hurt and no one else was hurt.”

The Essex County Sheriff’s Department in Middleton, where the 2 1/2-year-old dog trains with Lt. John Pickles, has now been the backdrop for numerous photo shoots for Ivan. The canine has put up with the sudden media crush but he’s not letting it go to his head.

”He’s not friendly at all,” said Pickles, a Methuen native who graduated from Greater Lawrence Technical School in 1991, after Ivan growled at a reporter and two photographers yesterday.

Pickles, a 15-year sheriff’s department employee has trained Ivan for the past year.

At 2 a.m. Saturday, Pickles and Ivan responded to Crescent and May streets in Lawrence after Officer Jeff Hart watched a man bury a weapon in a snowbank. On command, Ivan dug the gun out of the snow - but he also managed to fire it with one of his paws.

A bullet was fired into a home at 82 Crescent St. Police woke up everyone in the house and made sure they were OK.

Three local men were arrested and charged with illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and other charges.

In related dog shooting news, a Florida man was shot in the leg over the weekend by his dog. The 35-year-old Frostproof, Fla. man told police he and the dog were in his truck when a dog kicked a gun that was on the truck floor. The dog owner was not seriously injured.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.