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Injured San Diego Marine Dog Handler Reunited With Canine Friend

Evening Edition

Aired 6/17/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.

San Diego Veteran Adopts Dog He Worked With In Afghanistan


Jose Armenta
, retired Marine Corps dog handler


The June cover of National Geographic magazine features Layka, who was shot by enemy forces and took four rounds from an AK-47 while helping to clear an enemy compound in Afghanistan.

Jose Armenta was serving as a Marine dog handler in Afghanistan in 2011 when while searching for IEDs with his dog, Zenit, one exploded. Armenta was severely wounded. He later had to have both legs amputated above the knee. Zenit was uninjured.

Armenta and Zenit’s story is featured in the June issue of National Geographic. Armenta also told their story to Terry Gross on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air.

PHOTO GALLERY: Images from the June issue of National Geographic magazine

After Armenta was injured, Zenit was reassigned to another handler per military protocol. Armenta told National Geographic:

“I was furious,” Jose says. “And jealous. I never blamed Zenit for what happened. We were a team. If it was anyone’s fault, it was my own. I just wanted my dog."

Armenta, now a San Diego resident, was able to adopt Zenit in 2012 after a months-long process.

Go here to read the National Geographic story, "The Dogs of War."

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