In May 2012, Layka, a Belgian Malinois, and her military unit were trekking through the terrain of an Afghanistan village. Until suddenly, enemies forced entry with military grade rifles and grenades. The unit had no choice but to contain the enemy compound and attack.
Several soldiers were shot during the ambush, and Layka was ordered to search them out. Layka was trained to apprehend people and find explosives, and she was good at it.
While inside the compound, she encountered an enemy who had no concern for the dog and blasted four shots from an AK-47 into her right shoulder. Layka's handler, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Julian McDonald, managed to grab Layka and rush her to a medic who extracted the bullets from her body, while another soldier covered them.
Once she was stabilized, she was flown to another base where they amputated her right leg. Then she was flown to a veterinarian emergency hospital in Germany where several other surgeries were conducted to repair her shoulder and triceps.
“To be shot four times at close range, she shouldn’t even be here with us,” a veterinarian said from the University of Tennessee’s Veterinary Hospital.
Once she was sustained, she was flown to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas to fully recover. After intense physical therapy, she was discharged and retired from the military.
"If it wasn't for Layka going inside that enemy compound, it would have been a ranger who would have found that dude," Sgt. McDonald said.
Everyone from that unit was able to go home that deployment. All because of Layka. She was awarded a medal for her heroism and she was the first dog since WWII to receive an official award.
Another veterinarian wanted to put her down, but the military unit said, "if you put her down, we lose," recalled Rebecca Switzer, a friend of Sgt. McDonalds.
Sgt. McDonald was concerned about what was going to happen to her after she retired. Where would she go? What family would know how to take care of her? Without hesitation, he adopted her.
"She had already gave me an opportunity at life again," Sgt. McDonald said. "She risked her life for me. Every day I wake up, I owe that to her."
What do you think about Layka? Do you think she is a hero? Please share this article to further honor the heroes in our lives, both human and canine. In other news, a Purple Heart Veteran loses all four of his limbs, but is nominated as “Father of the Year.” Check out this tearful story here.