A Marine Corps veteran is honoring his late service dog’s memory by helping others. He created Kaya’s K9s in her honor to cover the costs of veterinary care for canines that serve veterans.
According to People Magazine, Cpl. Cole Lyle attributes his life to his service dog, Kaya. “If she wasn’t there, I don’t know that I would be here,” he noted.
Kaya helped him battle Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and inspired him to lobby Capitol Hill to get service dogs to other veterans in need.
Lyle was diagnosed with PTSD in 2011. When therapy and medication didn’t help, he became suicidal. But then he said that one turn of events changed his life, “when another Marine knocked on the door and saved my life.”
He was asked to help train a German shepherd puppy. Kaya quickly bonded with him, helping him through anxiety attacks and waking him up when he experienced nightmares.
“Kaya wasn’t just a dog, she was a service dog that was, specifically, trained to help me,” he stated.
Lyle also noted, “She became an ambassador for all service dogs in the US. She really was one-of-a-kind.”
Kaya traveled with Lyle on over 300 flights. She not only offered him the healing care he needed, but also reminded him of the other soldiers who could benefit from this kind of animal connection.
In 2019, Kaya got cancer. Lyle’s friend, actor Gary Sinise, offered to pay for the cost of treatment.
The veterinarians at Texas A&M University also offered to pay for her cancer treatments.
Lyle described how costly chemotherapy and radiation were and how it was only projected to give her a few more months and would likely be too painful. “I didn’t want her to continue to be in pain and suffer — after all the suffering that she had stopped throughout her life,” he said.
He posted a video of Kaya’s last flight to Instagram noting, “Coming to terms with this in such a rapid way has been hard but I’m buoyed by the love and support everyone has shown.”
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“She truly has been one of a kind,” he concluded.
Kaya’s death was hard but her life meant so much that’ll Sinese partnered with Texas A&M to create the Veterinary Valor Program. This aids with veterinary services for veterans and first responders.
In addition, Lyle continued to lobby in Washington. In 2021, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Service Members Act (PAWS) was passed.
This ensures that the federal government enables the VA to acquire service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD.
Lyle also created his own charity, Kaya’s K9s, to assist in the veterinary care of service dogs, not just covering costs but also creating a network of care providers as well as service dog organizations to ensure that veterans can get their dogs the care they need when and where they need it.
Since its launch in April of this year, the charity has aided 10 veterans and their service dogs. “We have saved every single one of them,” Lyle noted.
He also added, “And every veteran that we’ve helped has come back and said, ‘I don’t know what I would’ve done.’”
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