The Dog Who Inspired The Paws Act Takes Her Final Flight Home After Cancer Diagnosis

“Kaya inspired many Veterans to get service dogs and helped them find the will to continue living despite their PTSD”

After a lifetime of hard work, a hero service dog is carried onto her final flight home by her handler, Cole Lyle.

On February 6th, a special passenger boarded a Southwest Airlines flight so she could head home after years of hard work. Once she was made comfortable, the Caption introduced her, and shared her story with the rest of the passengers.

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“Kaya is a German Shepherd service dog who’s been with her handler Cole since 2014. She was specifically trained to help veterans cope with mental health issues.”

“She’s the inspiration for the Federal Paw’s Act. It’s a federal law that allows us to unify service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress, which was signed into law in 2021.”

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“Lobbying for the Paw’s Act and traveling with Cole, Kaya has flown on Southwest over 250 times.”

“Sadly, Kaya was recently diagnosed with 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.”

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“If you have the opportunity and feel so inclined, feel free to search for her story and pay her a visit when we arrive in Dallas to show her some love.”

“On behalf of Southwest Airlines, your two veterans up front, we thank Kaya and Cole, a Marine Corps Veteran for their service.”

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While the passengers, applaud, Kaya wakes from her peaceful sleep, curious as to what is going on. Surely, her last flight was a great one.

Cole Lyle shared:

“When I got out of the military, I was 22 years old, and I tried to utilize the VA system,” Lyle said in an interview with radio station KFDI. “I took pills, and even went to counseling, but my symptoms seemed to stagnate or get worse… I was also experiencing a divorce.”

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”When Kaya came into my life, I felt responsible for her care. The responsibility of taking care of Kaya helped me regain a sense of purpose, which is something pills could not do for me.”

Southwest also shared on their Facebook page:

“We were honored to fly our loyal friend and hero, Kaya, home to rest after a lifetime of hard work. Throughout her career, Kaya flew with us over 250 times to help establish the PAWS Act which united Veterans with service dogs. We are so grateful to be a part of her legacy, and we thank her and owner Cole for their many years of service.”

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We send our condolences to Cole. Sadly, Kaya, died on Feb. 4th, a few months shy of her 9th birthday. Kaya will be remembered as an ambassador for service dogs and veterans’ mental health across the U.S.

“Kaya’s greatest legacy is — and always will be — the veterans who reached out and told me that she inspired them to get their service dog,” Cole Lyle, Kaya’s owner, told NPR. “And if they hadn’t, they would have killed themselves.”

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