Marines from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Regiment in Fallujah found a 6 week old mixed breed puppy in November. Despite regulations forbidding soldiers from adopting pets the marines decided to keep the dog.
The marines named the scabby flea bitten puppy Lava after their battalion the "Lava Dogs". Lava was hidden in duffle bags and fed MRE's. Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman took a special interest in Lava and decided he would bring the dog back to the USA.
Many helped get Lava to the USA including the owner of a company that trains bomb dogs and their handlers: Kenneth Licklider, reporter Anne Garrels, and The Iams Company. He was flown out of Iraq on March 31 and reunited with Kopelman on April 4.