Filipino veterinarian Anton Lim (C) carries two-year-old mongrel dog "Kabang" wearing a US red cross medal, during a press conference in Manila.
MANILA: A dog that lost half its face saving two girls returned to a hero's welcome in the Philippines on Saturday after undergoing a series of operations in the United States.
After an 11-hour flight from Los Angeles, Kabang, a two-year-old mongrel, stepped out of her travel kennel at Manila airport and greeted a large throng of well-wishers with a lively wag of her tail.
Kabang was later to be transported to the southern Philippine port of Zamboanga, to be reunited with her owner, labourer Rudy Bunggal, and her small puppy.
"This is the first time in the history of the Philippines that we've seen such support for a dog," said Ed Unson, a Filipino veterinary surgeon serving as one of her handlers.
In 2011, Kabang, then aged two and pregnant, became a hero after running in front of a motorcycle in what her owner said was a deliberate act to save her daughter and niece who were crossing a busy road.
The accident tore off of Kabang's face, leaving a gaping hole.
A website, Facebook page and Twitter account were set up in an online fundraising drive that raised more than $27,000 for Kabang to be treated in the United States.
She was released from the University of California's Davis Veterinary Hospital on Monday after eight months of treatment in which her face was partially rebuilt and she was cured of cancer and a potentially fatal worm disease.
However, efforts to fit a prosthetic snout and jaw were abandoned.
"The extent of the fracture was so big and though we were hoping to get a prosthesis made for Kabang, it was impossible," Unson told AFP.
Despite the disfigurement, Kabang can still chew her food using her two remaining molars, and smell well enough to recognise her owner and handlers, Anton Lim, another of her Filipino veterinary surgeons, told reporters on Saturday.
She has learned a unique way to wet her tongue by rolling it inside her mouth, Lim added.
Though the surgery did not entirely yield the desired results, Unson said it was still a success. (AFP)