Man’s best friend likely saved a Florida family from unimaginable grief.
An 8-month-old pit bull lost its life after a lethal coral snake bite while protecting two young brothers.
The dog named Zeus died Tuesday, one day after suffering four punctures from the venomous reptile, reported Orlando TV station WOFL.
“I knew when (Zeus) first came in that something was wrong and (it) was very traumatic because I knew he was dying,” said his owner, Gary Richardson. “Pit bulls are the most loyal dog I know of, and I’ve had a lot of different animals in my life.”
The tragic incident unfolded in Sumter County on Monday as the two boys were washing Zeus’ water dish, unaware of the nearby lurking danger.
“All of a sudden, he started attacking the snake which was close to my son and he was bit four times,” said the owner.
Although Zeus — who was born in January — was rushed to a veterinarian in nearby Ocala, he didn’t survive.
“He’s been a member of the family,” lamented Gary’s wife, Gina Richardson. “It just killed us. We just knew the antivenom was going to work.”
While the family continues to mourn Zeus’ loss, they’re grateful for his fidelity.
“If you find (a pit bull) that’s aggressive, most likely, it’s because they weren’t treated right,” explained Gina Richardson. “If you treat them right, they would give their life for you and I owe my sons’ life to him.”
Coral snakes, which can grow up to 2 feet long, are extremely reclusive and generally attack humans only when handled or stepped on, according to National Geographic.
The effects of a coral snake bite can be delayed for up to 12 hours. If untreated, its neurotoxins can cause double vision, slurred speech and muscular paralysis — and in worst-case scenarios, cardiac and respiratory failure.