INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Melissa Altom couldn’t imagine losing her own dog, which is why she was affected by what happened in her own front yard.
“They’re like kids. They’re your pet but they’re like your kids. I couldn’t imagine losing mine,” said Altom.
Indiana State Police came to Altom’s east side home looking for Apache, the K9 officer that had been missing for 12 hours after running off during a police-action shooting about a half-mile away.
At the time, no one knew for sure if Apache had been wounded in the exchange of gunfire between a suspect and Apache’s handler, Trooper Walter Butt. The officer was one of the searchers who approached Melissa.
"He says, ‘I want to get him and make sure he's okay because he saved my life last night.’ He was in tears."
Melissa spotted Apache before the dog took off down the street. He jumped fences and was obviously still affected by what happened the night before.
"He was more scared and freaked out than anything because he just kept running and running and running," said Altom. "I wouldn't blame him, I'd be scared, too."
Thanks to Melissa and her neighbors, troopers were able to find Apache and coax him back. Melissa now wants to raise money for Apache. Not for his medical bills, but for a vest that will keep him safe when the bullets fly again.
"He's as much of a police officer as Officer Butts is, so we want to set up a GoFundMe page to get a Kevlar vest with a chip in it so he can be tracked."