A family in Florida is grieving the death of their 9-month-old pit bull, Zeus. He died after defending two kids from a venomous snake in their backyard.
Richardson brothers, Orion and Oriley, were refilling Zeus's water on Monday, September 26, outside their Sumter County home when the dog spotted the deadly snake approaching the kids.
The brave pooch sprang into action, defending the kids from the snake, but got tragically bitten in the process.
Dad Gary Richardson told Fox 35 in Orlando:
"All of a sudden, he started attacking the snake, which was close to my son, and he was bit four times. I knew when he first came in that something was wrong, and (it) was very traumatic because I knew he was dying."
The family rushed Zeus to the veterinarian's office and believed his health was going to improve. Gary told the publication that they "just knew the antivenom was going to work."
The pooch needed two vials of antivenom during his stay at the vets' office. But the snake poison was so deadly that Zeus struggled to stay awake while the family spoke to him.
Richardson's wife, Gina, said:
"They got him stable enough for me to FaceTime after about an hour and a half, which was spectacular because Gary and the kids wanted to speak with him."
"He kept falling asleep on FaceTime but tried hard to interact and show his human kids and Gary that he will fight this."
But on the following day, Zeus died — the same day as Oriley's 10th birthday.
The Most Loyal Dog In The World
According to the family, Zeus, born on New Year's Day, was "the most loyal dog" they ever knew.
Gina told CBS News:
"I'm thankful he gave his life for our kids. He will be remembered by the many hearts he has touched across the world now."
Gary also described how Zeus had changed the stigma around pit bulls. He was the "ambassador" for Staffordshire bull terrier breeds.
"If you find (a pit bull) that's aggressive, most likely, it's because they weren't treated right. If you treat them right, they would give their life for you, and I owe my son's life to him."
Coral snakes are vibrantly colored, small, and highly poisonous. According to Live Science, they have the second-strongest venom of all snakes. But they're considered less dangerous than rattlesnakes.
As per petMD, a coral snake bite can result in paralysis of muscles and breathing, and respiratory collapse is the primary cause of death.
Symptoms of coral snake bites in animals include drooling or salivation, inability to bark, shortness of breathing, convulsions, and diarrhea.