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March 04. 2013 7:12PM

Mass. police dog accidentally fires stolen Manchester gun

LAWRENCE, Mass. - No one was injured when a police dog searching for a handgun stolen from New Hampshire managed to fire the weapon with its paw Saturday morning in Lawrence.

Ivan, a 3-year-old German shepherd, and his handler, Lt. John Pickles of the Essex County Sherriff's Department, were startled when a gun Ivan was searching for in a snowbank fired when he pawed at it to indicate its location.

Essex County Sheriff's Department spokesman Maurice Pratt said the department was called in by the Lawrence Police Department for help locating a weapon after a man was seen burying something in the snow by police after a report of shots being fired.

After the gun was recovered, Detective Tom Cuddy of the Lawrence Police Department said police matched it to a gun that was stolen from Manchester on Oct. 2 of last year.

Pratt said Ivan, who is one of the department's 18 K-9s, has been with the department about a year and is narcotics and search trained.

"Ivan is trained to sit when he finds something, then the handler will instruct him to paw for the item, and that is when the gun fired," Pratt said.

While the round that was fired has not been located, Pratt said, "The most important thing is that the dog, officer and civilians are fine. We are fortunate no one was hurt."

Despite the scare, Pratt said Lt. Pickles and Ivan would not miss any time due to the incident.

"We sure have not heard of anything like this ever happening," he said.

While a police dog firing a gun he was searching for might be new, there are media accounts of man's best friend accidentally firing off a few rounds.

In November 2011, a duck hunter in Utah was injured when his dog jumped on the bow of a boat and discharged a shotgun into his owner's backside. Last week, a Florida man was shot in the leg while driving when his excited dog, who was jumping around inside a truck, hit an unsecured gun and caused it to fire.

bklein@newstote.com


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