Ape was only two years old and on his first mission — at the side of state and federal officers when penetrating a small first-floor room of an abandoned bar, staking out the suspect who was said to have shot six people, killing four.
Ape left in a steel coffin — the same size that would usually accommodate a child — the fifth victim of the shootings that paralyzed the villages of Herkimer and Mohawk.
It was after 64-year-old Kurt Myers shot Ape, a Czech German shepherd dog, that officers were able to shoot and kill Myers.
The tactical K9 died while "doing what he was trained to do,” said Special Agent Ann Todd with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a release.
"His actions were heroic and prevented his teammates from being seriously wounded or killed," Todd said.
Ape began his duty with the FBI less than a month before the shooting after completing a tactical training course which started on Oct. 12, 2012.
The FBI had called Herkimer Veterinary Associates Thursday morning, around their opening time, asking if the vet office could be on call in case any K9 units were injured, said Chris Nellis, practice manager for the office.
Soon after the initial contact, a call came in that said a dog was shot and was rushing over in an armored vehicle, Nellis said.
She was told the dog was “not good.”
“We’ve never been part of anything like that,” said Nellis, who has worked at the Marginal Road veterinary clinic for five years. “We were just basically prepared to receive the animal and do what we could.”
Officers that arrived with their fallen K9 companion were administering CPR when the dog came into the office, Nellis said.
Ape died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Nellis said she was not sure if the dog wore any protective gear at the time of the shooting, but that Ape did not arrive with any vests.
A steel coffin was donated by Matthews Casket Division in Whitesboro and delivered by Scott Hendrix, vice president of Whiter-Hendrix Funeral Home in Ilion.
It was the first time that Hendrix remembered getting a call for an animal’s coffin. Usually, he said owners are asking for urns or other memorials for their pets.
“The K9 officers are revered in the same way that a human officer would be,” said Hendrix, also a firefighter in the village of Ilion.
Officers would not leave the dog without taking him in a casket, which Nellis said speaks of their commitment to the K9 unit.
“The compassion and commitment that the FBI agents showed, it was unbelievably touching,” she said.