One Florida family has been left grieving the tragic loss of their 9-month-old pit bull puppy, after he died while protecting two children from a venomous snake in the backyard of their house.
CBS News spoke to the Richardson family, who said they are "still hurt" by their hero Zeus' death.
On Monday, the family's two young boys were outside their home cleaning the pup's water dish. Fox35 reports that they did not see the snake coming, but their 9-month-old puppy spotted the danger and started fighting the snake off.
Gary Richardson said of Zeus;
“All of a sudden, he started attacking the snake which was close to my son and he was bit four times.”
CBS reports that the family rushed Zeus straight to the veterinarian and were initially hopeful that his condition would approve after he took anti-venom. However he tragically died the following day.
Zeus was born on New Year's Day at the Richardson family's home, and had become a huge part of their family.
"I'm thankful he gave his life for our kids," Gina Richardson told CBS, "he will be remembered by the many hearts he has touched across the world now."
Now, the family hope that Zeus' story can help to change the stigma surrounding pit bulls;
“If you find [a pitbull] 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.”
Gary Richardson reiterated this sentiment;
“Pitbulls are the most loyal dog I know of, and I’ve had a lot of different animals in my life.”
Coral snakes are described by Live Science as;
"Small, vibrantly colored, highly venomous snakes. They have the second-strongest venom of any snake (the black mamba has the most deadly venom), but they are generally considered less dangerous than rattlesnakes because coral snakes have a less effective poison-delivery system."
Sara Viernum a herpetologist says of the snake;
"New World coral snakes are considered some of the most toxic snakes in North America because their venom contains powerful neurotoxins."
Zeus may no longer be with us, but his sacrifice for his family will never be forgotten.