Dogs have a reputation for protecting their owners unflinchingly, and last week a two-year-old German shepherd lived up to that reputation by taking three bites from a rattlesnake while defending a seven-year-old girl. According to Donya DeLuca, her young daughter Molly and newly adopted dog, Haus, were playing in her backyard in Tampa, Florida last Wednesday when the two came across the deadly snake.
“Molly and Haus were looking for his toys he likes to put outside, when a large rattlesnake appeared,” DeLuca wrote on her Facebook. “Haus stood his ground, protecting my daughter and was bitten three times before the snake slithered away. Molly is fine, just shaken up and upset. Haus is fighting for his life.”
The snake was an eastern diamondback, one of the most venomous snakes on the continent. It, along with its western cousin, is also responsible for the highest fatality rate among rattlesnakes in North America. Snake bites are now often treated successfully with antivenom, but children are still especially vulnerable. Experts say that the average eastern diamondback has enough venom stored to kill about 10 adults, depending on its size. That is certainly more than enough to put one German shepherd in grave danger.
“We are pumping him full of expensive anti-venom,” DeLuca wrote online. “So far 4 vials. His vitals are strong and if we can afford enough anti-venom he will recover with no ill-effects.”
Antivenom is effective but very expensive. Humans who are treated for rattlesnake bites could see hospital bills soar well into the thousands, and Haus was no exception. Only halfway into the dog’s treatment, DeLuca already received a bill for $10,000. Yet the family was determined to save their pet’s life. They had only recently lost their beloved dog of 12 years, and they were not about to lose Haus either.
The family set up a GoFundMe for Haus’s treatment, raising over $50,000 in less than five days. After several days where it was touch and go, it seems that Haus may finally be coming out of the woods.
“Haus is doing great; Walked up to me the most “Haus-like” we’ve seen since before the incident,” DeLuca wrote in a recent update. “He ate some chicken and drank water. I took him outside for a brief walk and potty break.”
As Haus recovers, DeLuca recalls the terrifying sight of a rattlesnake, her daughter, and the heroic dog between them.
“He instantly positioned himself between the snake and Molly, so at first, her and her grandma didn’t even realize what he was staring at—but then all of a sudden there was all of this blood,” DeLuca told TODAY.
She added that while they only adopted the German shepherd two months ago, the canine readily took to her kids and has always been protective.