A hunter and former American footballer Matt Branch who lost his leg after being shot by a dog has said he is “just happy to be alive”.

Branch, who played as a lineman for Louisiana State University, lost his limb while preparing for a hunting trip with friends and family on the morning of 28 December near the city of Monroe.

As the group loaded gear for duck hunting into their vehicle, a black Labrador named Tito jumped onto Mr Branch’s shotgun, somehow pressing the safety catch and pulling the trigger with his paw.

The gun blasted a hole through the vehicle and sent shot flying into Mr Branch’s leg. He was rushed to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, where he died twice before being stabilised, and woke up 12 days later.

The father of one told local paper the Clarion Ledger: “When I woke up I was extremely weak, I couldn’t feed myself.

I couldn’t sit up. I could barely grab a bottle of water off the table. I’d been asleep 12 days. It’s crazy how your body can get so weak when it’s not used.”

After regaining consciousness after almost two weeks in his hospital bed, he was not told he had lost his leg until a day later – however he said he was not angry to find the appendage had been amputated.

He added: “It didn’t really surprise me. For several days they didn’t know if I would live or die, so I was happy to be alive rather than mad I lost my leg.

“I kind of accepted it and tried to figure out what I needed to do to get out of the hospital.”

After 12 surgeries and more than 55 days in medical care, doctors questioned whether he would be able to walk again – however he has since posted videos to his Facebook account showing him strength training with his prosthetic limb by performing tractor tyre lifts.

Mr Branch said: “There were definitely times, especially in the hospital and sometimes after, you feel isolated, you ask yourself why you lost a limb.

“But at the end of the day, you’ve still lost a limb. I decided early on to try to be positive. I still have bad days. I’m going to have bad days. I’m just going to try to best I can so I can work through it.”

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