Hero military dog that saved unit in Afghanistan gets a second chance

(WRIC/ABC) — U.S. military combat dog Layka saved many lives during her deployment in Afghanistan. Now, some of those she saved are returning the favor.

Layka, a Belgian Malinois, lost one of her front legs when she was shot four times during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2013. Despite her wounds, the dog managed to save the soldiers from an attacker inside the building she was sent to clear.

The Belgian Malinois lost one of her front legs after she was shot four times during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2013.

Now 5-years-old and adopted by her Afghanistan handler, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald, Layka faces the possibility of losing her remaining front paw from a bad ATV jump earlier this fall.

“It’s a big injury because she only has one leg,” said Rebecca Switzer of Oklahoma, who met Layka and her handler at an event more than a year ago. “She struggled along with one leg and now her other leg is in jeopardy.”

Switzer and her husband have been helping Layka get the care she’s needed since 2014, the year they met her and fundraised so the dog could get a prosthetic leg. When she was injured this year, they again jumped in to help get her to the University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Hospital, where she’s being treated for her broken paw.

“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.”

Many of the donors for both fundraising campaigns are some of the soldiers she helped during that ambush and while in combat, Switzer said. It’ll be a long road to recovery for the “hero dog.”

“Before her second injury, she could still attack,” Switzer said, adding that Layka will have to live a calmer life from now on. “She still has a lot of rehab to do.”

Layka’s injuries are not only physical — she still gets on edge when hearing loud noises.

“That for her means something else,” Switzer said, comparing the sound of firecrackers to that of gunfire.

When she gets better, Layka will return to her handler. Attempts to contact the former ranger were unsuccessful, but in April he told ABC News that Layka is “kind of my rock.”

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