On September 23, Gary and Gina Richardson’s children were in the backyard when Zeus, the family’s 9-month-old pit bull puppy, jumped in their son, Oriley’s, direction. Oriley saw Zeus attacking something that was sitting on the ground. While he initially thought it was a piece of rope, it turned out to be much more dangerous.
The incident took place in Webster, Florida. Zeus, according to a report by CNN, was frantically attacking a coral snake, trying to keep it away from 10-year-old Oriley.
As Zeus fought with the snake, 11-year-old Orion came into the backyard. At that moment, Zeus laid on top of the coral snake, using his body to pin the venomous creature.
Orion said that he noticed Zeus’ eyes appeared “bugged out.” When the family moved the puppy, the found that Zeus had ripped the head off of the snake, but had also been bitten four times before he managed to swallow the snake’s head.
The family took Zeus to an animal hospital nearby. Staff members worked quickly to try and save Zeus’ life, administering antivenom, and providing additional care.
However, it was too late. Zeus died the following day.
“He’s been a member of the family,” said Gina. “It just killed us. We just knew the antivenom was going to work.”
Gina, however, said that she would be “forever grateful” to the puppy and considers him to be a hero.
“I feel like I may have lost one of my children had he not been there,” she stated.
The family is now mourning their loss, but also hopes that Zeus’ selfless action will help alter public perception about the often-misunderstood breed.
“He was a good boy, and I loved him with all my heart,” said Oriley. “I played with him all the time. I feel sad, and I miss him.”
“He was my best friend,” Gary stated. “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.”