Tucson police dog Ivan did his job and protected officers "in the dark who were in harm's way," said Officer Ron Payette, speaking at a memorial service for the fallen K-9.
Payette relived on Thursday, outside police headquarters, that Dec. 12 night when he and other patrol officers were chasing an armed carjacker that led to the fatal shooting.
Some 200 people, including officers representing more than a dozen agencies from the Tucson area and Scottsdale, paid their respects to the 3-year-old Belgian malinois and Officer Chris Fenoglio, Ivan's partner.
Ivan's ashes were in a wooden urn that was placed in front of a color photograph of Fenoglio with Ivan at the Memorial Plaza in front of the downtown police station. Ivan's leash lay near the urn, which was flanked by a wreath and large bouquet of red and yellow flowers.
"All of us will miss Ivan," said Payette, explaining that the police dog was a hero and did his job by taking a bullet first rather than allow other officers to get hurt that night.
Ivan was shot while assisting officers with the arrest of the carjacker who led officers on a chase that ended in the Sam Hughes neighborhood.
Ivan was released by Fenoglio, who bit Fernando Velarde-Loureiro, 53, on his left arm. Velarde-Loureiro shot Ivan in the thorax, and Ivan died at a veterinary hospital.
Four officers shot and killed Velarde-Loureiro after he refused to drop the gun.
After the service, 9-year-old Madison Fenoglio, the officer's daughter, talked about the morning moments with Ivan that she misses most.
"I would wake up to Ivan licking my face and his paw on my shoulder," said the elementary school student.
Madison walked up to the Memorial Plaza, looked at an image of Ivan on the wooden urn and said: "God bless you because what you did was very brave."
Ivan's ashes will remain in the urn on a wall unit in the family's living room.
Meanwhile, the Tucson Police Officers Association is working to name a Rita Ranch dog park for Ivan. It was at that one-acre park within Purple Heart Park on East Rita Road that Fenoglio would allow Ivan to run off his energy after his shift each night before going home.
Copyright 2013 - The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson
McClatchy-Tribune News Service