SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - The tragedy in Herkimer has many thinking of all K-9 officers and the job they do, after the FBI dog 'Ape' was killed while in the line of duty Thursday.
Since the mid-1970's, K-9 officers have paired up with local law enforcement, creating a team of intuition and trust unlike any other. Through weeks of vigorous training, the dog gets to know their handler, and vice-versa, and together they learn to become a team.
Retired Schenectady County Sheriff Harry Buffardi, of Schenectady, became the first full service K-9 dog handler in upstate New York in 1975.
Buffardi says the bond an officer has with their K-9 is the reason for their successful team.
"You go to work under some very difficult circumstances, they're there to help you, to protect you, they make you proud, they serve so well," Buffardi said. "It's really extraordinary the feelings that you develop for that dog."
K-9 officers are trained to always find what they're looking for and to always win. Because of this, they go into every active scenario without fear of losing and without fear of getting hurt.
"They lead us into events, they work from the front, we know the jeopardy they're in," Buffardi said. "They're trained for it, they don't realize it, it's part of their job and it's their love, but every time we do it we know that we're placing our dog in jeopardy and it's like placing one of your own children in jeopardy. It's heart-wrenching to do that, and occasionally you'll have situations like in Herkimer where they're tragic."
K-9 'Ape' was killed in the line of duty while accompanying FBI agents who were attempting to arrest Kurt Myers, the suspected killer of four people in Herkimer Wednesday. Ape was shot by the suspect during a shootout with police, who then returned fire killing the suspect.
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