Colorado State Vets Help Ailing Military Dog

A dog who helped sniff out bombs in Afghanistan, gets a surgery to help him live comfortably with heart cancer.

By | Posted: September 22, 2014, 1 p.m. PST

Kay with owner Brandi Donahue.Kay with owner Brandi Donahue.
Photo courtesy of Colorado State University
A 9-year-old mixed-breed dog that sniffed out bombs during military tours in Iraq and Afghanistan is recovering after heart surgery performed Sept. 16 at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Kay, a now-retired war dog, was discovered to have an inoperable heart tumor after he settled down with his U.S. Army handler, Brandon Donahue, in Brighton, Colo.

"We could definitely tell he was lethargic and tired, and he wasn’t feeling right,” Donahue said.

The former soldier and his wife, Brandi, stopped at Colorado State after sitting through other veterinary consultations that included suggestions of euthanasia. Brandon Donahue knew he had to do more for Kay, who was credited with saving countless American lives overseas.

"He put his life in danger, sometimes more than I did,” he said of their military service. "It means the world that we were able to return the favor and help him out.”

Publicity about Kay’s condition led to $9,825 in contributions for the dog’s surgery and recovery.

Though his cancer is inoperable, a surgical team led by Dr. Catriona MacPhail created a 1- by 1-inch hole in the bottom of the heart sac so the fluid can drain and the organ can function more effectively, Colorado State reported.

"The procedure will extend Kay’s life and increase his comfort, providing heart help for a dog that for years gave his all for others,” the university stated.

Kay, a pit bull and Labrador mix, earned the moniker "devil dog” from Afghanistan’s Taliban for his bomb-sniffing ability and for the reddish glow of his eyes in bright sunshine.

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