Combat dogs are a special breed of dog. They’re normally one of the first to go in and begin clearing hostile environments. They also have the most chance of getting shot in those incidents. Combat dog, Layka, is the perfect example.
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The 4-year-old dog was simply doing her job in Afghanistan when she was shot four times point blank by an insurgent in May 2013.
Her handler and trainer, Army Staff Sgt Julian McDonald, and his squad came under intense fire as they were raiding an enemy compound. Layka was sent in to search for injured or live combatants and explosives before the squad entered.
Once inside, she took four direct AK-47 shots to her leg and shoulder area. When McDonald found Layka, she was tackling her combatant to the ground and “tearing him up.”
Even with four bullets from an Ak-47 in her, she continued to do her job. McDonald and his squad cleared the rest of the insurgents out and began to attend to Layka. He had her med-evaced back to a forward operating base where she endured seven hours of surgery and was given little to no chance to live.
Against all odds, she survived, but sadly lost one of her front legs. McDonald, who says Layka saved the hsquad members’ lives, repaid the favor a year later when he became her owner. Layka medically retired as a combat dog in July 2014.
“We love animals and we help a lot of animals,but she’s a hero, she saved our troops,” Switzer told ABC News. “She didn’t ask to go in, she was trained to go in. We’re just enamored with her and what she has been through in her deployment.”
Layka represents what it means to serve your country, according to McDonald. She deals with her physical injuries every day but she has had to face mental issues as she fights PTSD.
She has adapted to civilian life as all servicemen and women must do once they return home. Many said Layka was too aggressive to become a household dog but McDoanld didn’t see it.
He brought her home and Layka immediately took to his wife and kids. McDonald told National Geographic “Combat dogs are not scary, they have done scary things but they deserve homes.”
McDoanld never forgets how important Layka is to him and his family. “I realized I had a responsibility to take care of her, just as she took care of me,” said McDonald. “She saved our lives and I owed it to her to obviously save hers.”