Service dog who inspired PAWS Act takes one last flight in touching video
Because of Kaya, uniting at-risk veterans with service dogs became federal law.
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After helping countless veterans struggling with mental health find furry companionship, Kaya the German shepherd, devoted service dog and inspiration behind the PAWS Act of 2021, has passed. But not before her legacy was honored with one last flight.
In a clip posted to Instagram by Southwest Airlines, which Kaya had flown with 250 times, we see the sweet, yet tired pup resting on her furry blanket as the pilot explains her story.Since 2014, Kaya and her owner Cole Lyle, a Marine Corps veteran, have flown all over the country helping other veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Their work together helped highlight the positive impact service dogs have in preventing veteran suicide, eventually leading to the PAWS Act (short for Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers Act) becoming a federal law.
“Sadly, Kaya was recently diagnosed with an untreatable cancer so we have the solemn honor of taking her on what will be her last flight as she goes home to rest where she was born and first met Cole,” the pilot announces as Kaya is met with a series of cheers.
Kaya is then seen being wheeled through the airport, showing nothing but smiles.
Watch the emotional clip below:
According to NPR, Lyle and Kaya spent their final day together at a few other their favorite haunts—a local Dallas pub, Lyle’s old college stomping grounds, and finally, a pond where Lyle used to study with Kaya accompanying him.
"I just laid with her for several hours, and told her how much I loved her and how loved she was," Lyle told NPR. "I just wanted her to feel comfortable and happy in her last few hours."
Thank you for your service, Kaya. You have saved countless lives, and your hard work will undoubtedly save many more.