Do you remember back in July 2012 when Fortville Police Officer Matt Fox was shot nine times from point blank range and still survived? Perhaps you saw the YouTube video or the news coverage showing how the previously convicted felon, James Lockhart III, got out of his car and suddenly started shooting at Matt as seen on the surveillance camera planted within Matt’s police car.
Eventually the shooter was killed moments later after exchanging fire with Marion County officers. This rampage started when Lockhart fled the scene after Matt pulled him over for a missing tail light. Obviously, Matt and his family and friends will never forget this horrific event. Yet there is one four-legged connection to Matt that witnessed the entire episode in the back seat that night — Lannie (pronounced Lane-ee), the police dog who continues to look after him day after day.
“Matt has a good relationship with his canine,” says Lieutenant Patrick Bratton, Public Information Officer with Fortville Police Department. “Matt has regularly used Lannie as a deterrent to youth bringing narcotics to school.” Lannie has done her share of sniffing lockers, book bags, rooms, buildings and cars to keep drugs off the streets.
Lannie, a nine-year-old yellow lab, just retired December 2. She served as a single-purpose dog specialized in narcotic searches. She will now become a full-time pet within Matt’s family including his wife, five-year-old daughter, a German Shepherd and a Pomeranian.
The awful event had an impact on Matt’s family, but it also affected his working partner as well. “Lannie wasn’t the same after the accident,” says Matt. “She became nervous, anxious and traumatized. She starts to pant and shake when she’s in the back seat of the car.” Now that she is recently retired, she has to adjust to staying home when Matt leaves for work, wondering why she can no longer serve as his loyal companion.
On a more positive note, Matt recalls how Lannie has assisted in hundreds of narcotic arrests. Together they have turned a negative into a positive as they have appeared together at many speaking events at schools and various police stations where Matt has talked about the incident and how others can learn from emergency situations. Matt proudly asserts, “Lannie has a real good personality, and she wears the face as she represents the Fortville Police Station.”
The Fortville Police are considering adding a patrol canine in the near future. Police canines are expensive whether they are used for patrol or for sniffing narcotics. They are highly trained and require proper equipment and supplies ranging from kennels to bite suits. Lannie cost about $12,000.
Essentially, no price can be put on the value of the relationship between Matt and Lannie. They have worked together for a special eight (or 56) years depending on whose perspective you are viewing (human or dog years). One thing is for sure, their bond is strong and solid. They both have so much to be thankful for as they share this holiday season with their family. They are lucky to have each other and to be alive and well.