A family from Florida is mourning the passing of their “hero dog” named Zeus, who saved the lives of two children by protecting them from the bite of a poisonous snake.
On September 23, 10-year-old Oriley Richardson was playing in the backyard of their home when Zeus suddenly jumped towards the boy. The 9-month-old pit bull was attacking something on the ground, and Oriley thought that it was just a rope.
But it wasn’t. As the family was to find out later on, the thing that Zeus was tackling was a venomous coral snake. The hero dog was doing his best to keep it away from Oriley.
As Zeus was protecting Oriley from the snake, 11-year-old Orion went to the backyard to change Zeus’ water. At that moment, the pit bull tried to smother the deadly snake by laying down on it and using his body weight to prevent it from attacking the boys. It was as if the dog understood the kind of danger that the creature could bring.
Orion then noticed that the dog’s eyes looked different – “bugged out”, as he described it – Gina Richardson, the boys’ mother, told CNN.
They turned him on his back and that’s when they discovered the coral snake, which had already bitten the poor dog four times before he bit off its head and swallowed it.
The Richardsons immediately drove him to a veterinarian in Ocala, where doctors quickly injected him with anti-venom. The family was relieved, believing that Zeus would be fine after the treatment.
Unfortunately, the anti-venom wasn’t able to save Zeus’ life. The snake bite was fatal and he passed away the next day – the same day as Oriley’s birthday.
“I just started bawling,” Gina said. “My kids woke up and heard me crying and then they too started crying. We were all an emotional wreck.”
Everyone was heartbroken with Zeus’ passing. The pain of losing a family member was too hard to bear, especially given the circumstances of his death. It was hard to believe that the dog lost his life trying to save someone else’s.
“He’s been a member of the family,” Gina said. “It just killed us. We just knew the antivenom was going to work.”
The whole family, including Zeus’ mom, Sega, visited the hospital to properly say their goodbyes.
“Sega goes over to Zeus’ head and puts her paws up on the table and takes a sniff. Her ears came back, she got down, she instantly jumped on the sofa next to me and put her head on my thigh in sorrow. At that moment not only was my family broken, but his own mother was broken,” Gina recalled.
Gina says that she will be “forever grateful” to the hero dog for what he did for their family.
“I feel like I may have lost one of my children had he not been there,” she said.
Oriley is especially heartbroken over losing his good friend.
“He was a good boy and I loved him with all my heart. I played with him all the time. I feel sad and I miss him,” he said.
The boy’s father, Gary, hopes that Zeus’ heroic sacrifice will help change the public’s negative perception of pit bulls.
“He was my best friend,” he said. “I’m torn between wanting to be happy that this situation has brought awareness to his breed and their kind and loving nature, and the sorrow of having lost him.”
Gina has this to say about people who tend to be judgmental towards pit bulls.
“If you find [a pit bull] that’s aggressive, most likely, it’s because they weren’t treated right,” Gina said. “If you treat them right, they would give their life for you and I owe my son’s life to him.”
As sad as this story is, we hope that the family finds peace and comfort knowing that Zeus is now enjoying himself in puppy heaven with the rest of his four-legged pals. He will forever be remembered as a hero by those who have had the chance to love him and by the people around the world who will know about his story.
Please share this story with your family and friends in honor of Zeus’ heroic sacrifice.
Since were are on the topic of heroism, here’s another news story of a dog saving his human friend: