NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Meet Jimmy Hatch, a former U.S. Navy SEAL whose dog Spike saved his life while on a mission in Iraq.

When asked what led him to the military at age 17, he said, “I just, you know, wanted to punish people that had it coming. That was my goal.”

In the video above, Hatch describes the mission in western Iraq when he lost Spike. Hatch said while he didn’t get physically hurt then, Spike’s death “definitely affected” him.

“I have this metaphor. I give speeches and we all have a backpack. You have one. I have one. And the things you don’t deal with, they go in that backpack, and eventually, when something happens, like you get injured and you end up in the hospital looking at the ceiling for a while. All that stuff in your backpack comes out.”

Hatch founded Spike’s K9 Fund to enhance the training, care and preservation of working dogs.

If you want to help Hatch and his nonprofit, he says one of the best things you can do is to help the dogs.

“I can’t bring back the ones that were lost in combat, and I can’t bring back the ones that are lost defending cities like New Haven. But I can do everything I can to help the ones that are out there working and not just the police, but the military and then the search and rescue dogs.”

Gianni, a service dog who is almost two years old, joined Hatch on News 8.

Learn more about Spike’s K9 Fund here.