A Florida family is grieving their 9-month-old pit bull puppy after it died protecting two children from a venomous snake in their backyard. The Richardson family told CBS News on Friday they are "still hurt" by the loss of Zeus, their heroic puppy, earlier this week.
The family's young boys, Oriley and Orion, were outside the home in Sumter County cleaning Zeus' water dish on Monday when he spotted the snake and started it fighting off. The children were unharmed, but the pup didn't emerge as lucky.
"All of a sudden, he started attacking the snake which was close to my son and he was bit four times," Gary Richardson told WOFL-TV.
They rushed him to the veterinarian's office and initially believed Zeus's health was going to improve after he took anti-venom. However, he died the next day — the same day as Oriley's 10th birthday.
Gina Richardson told CBS News that Zeus was born at their home on New Year's Day and was a huge part of her family. She was touched by his sacrifice.
"I'm thankful he gave his life for our kids," she said. "He will be remembered by the many hearts he has touched across the world now."
She also talked about how Zeus is changing the stigma around pit bulls, saying he has become an "ambassador" for the Staffordshire bull terrier breeds.
"If you find (a pitbull) that's aggressive, most likely, it's because they weren't treated right," Richardson told WOFL. "If you treat them right, they would give their life for you and I owe my son's life to him."
Coral snakes are small, vibrantly colored, highly venomous snakes. They have the second-strongest venom of any snakes, according to Live Science, but are considered to be less dangerous than rattlesnakes.