Retired military dog gets heart surgery

A newscast on a local Denver news station brought awareness to the Kay’s plight and donations for his surgical procedure.

Kay, a 9-year old retired military service dog, is recovering from heart surgery thanks to his handlers and several generous online donors.

The American Pit Bull Terrier/Labrador Retriever mix who spent years in Afghanistan as a bomb-sniffing dog, “put his life in danger more than I did,” says Brandon Donahue, his handler and fellow soldier.

Brandon tells CBS, “I’d like to say that I led the way when we went out on missions, but in reality, he really did.”

Working as a bomb-sniffing dog meant Kay had to use his nose to detect IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).

Brandon and his wife Brandi raised the funds for Kay’s $6,000 surgery by through GoFundMe. The pair raised more than $9,000 right after their story about Kay’s heart surgery aired on a CBS station in Denver. “I didn’t expect it all all,” Brandi tells CBS. “It was amazing.”

The surgery was less than one hour, and was performed by Dr. Catriona MacPhail, a veterinarian at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Doctors at the hospital in Denver had to remove a tumor on Kay’s heart that caused fluid buildup. Without the surgery, Kay would not have survived. “We believe these ones are really slow growing, that is why we were optimistic for Kay’s future,” MacPhail tells CBS.

Brandi and Brandon have been flooded with e-mails from Kay’s past military buddies, and by numerous strangers. “I am so thankful to everyone,” Brandon says.

Kay is not finished with doctor appointments. He still has a tumor on his heart. The good news is that this surgery has extended his life.

For updates on Kay, please take a look at MWD Kay’s Page on Facebook.