Over one and a half million pets are euthanized every year in shelters around the United States.
That’s a really depressing number.
But the number would be even higher if it weren’t for shelters that pull dogs from kill-shelters before their time runs out.
They take the animals in, get them healthy and evaluated for potential problems before placing them in permanent homes.
When you adopt a pet from a rescue group you’re saving a life.
Everyone who successfully adopted an animal through rescue tells the same story:
The animal is so grateful to have a safe and happy home that they will go to great lengths to repay your kind gesture.
Most of the time, they repay the kindness with their undying love and affection and dedication.
But one German Shepherd, Haus, a rescue from the Heidi’s Legacy Dog Rescue in Tampa, Florida, took his appreciation one step farther.
The dog bonded with the DeLuca family almost as soon as they took him home with them.
He became especially protective of their two children, Molly, 7, and Joey, 4.
“He follows them around, he takes cares of them,” mother Donya DeLuca told TODAY.
One day, Haus was hanging around with Molly, who was picking up dog toys in the family’s backyard.
All of a sudden, Haus started jumping around frantically. Molly wasn’t sure what was going on…
Molly’s grandmother witnessed Haus’s strange behavior and headed towards them to see what the commotion was all about.
After all, Haus was still new to the family and no child should ever be left alone with any dog.
She worried that Haus might be going to harm Molly. But nothing could be further from the truth…
Haus was trying to save Molly’s life!
The stunned grandmother suddenly saw a huge snake; the brave dog had positioned himself between Molly and the diamondback rattlesnake, to protect the little girl from being bitten by the deadly reptile.
The grandmother watched in horror as Haus took strike after strike from the pit viper.
Strikes that had been intended for little Molly.
“He kept jumping back and then forward… and he did it three times.
He had every opportunity to run but he didn’t,” DeLuca told WFLA.
Molly was able to run into the house to safety, as the snake eventually slithered away.
“If it were Molly, who’s smaller, I don’t know that she would have made it,” DeLuca told ABC News.
“He [Haus] was willing to give his life for our family.”
Haus had been very brave, but even heroes bleed.
And when injected with enough snake venom, the family knew, even heroes could die.
After the pitched battle, Haus started walking with a limp and bleeding profusely; he couldn’t hold his head up and had difficulty breathing.
They rushed him to Blue Pearl Veterinary Hospital for treatment.
“Without the pain medication, he’s in pain,” Dr. John Gicking told the AP.
“He’s responsive, he’s alert and his leg is swollen and uncomfortable.”
Because of the directness of the strikes and the place where they hit poor Haus, he was in bad shape.
The hero dog required not only a continuous drip of antivenin and painkillers but also surgery so the vets could repair muscle damage to his leg.
However, the DeLucas didn’t even hesitate when they were told how extensive Haus’s treatment would be.
After all, he had just saved their daughter’s life. How can you put a price tag on that!?
Word quickly spread about the valiant dog and his story touched the hearts of people around the world.
In the days following, 1,838 people rallied for Haus and donated almost $52,000 via a GoFundMe page to help pay his medical bills, far exceeding an initial $28,000 goal.
“We are blown away by the response in the past day! We cannot thank you enough for your support! PLEASE – we feel we have plenty to care for Haus’s needs,” read an update on the GoFundMe page.
DeLuca said that all extra money would go to Heidi’s Legacy Rescue and other dog rescues.
Haus is living proof that when you rescue an animal from a shelter, you are saving a life.
And sometimes, that animal just may end up saving yours.
Gradually, Haus got better and was able to return home.
In recognition of his bravery, he was given a “Heroic Dog Award,” along with a doggie bag full of treats.
A few months later, DeLuca posted an update on the Haus the Hero Dog Facebook page. She wrote:
“Haus is doing very well. He is happy and healthy with very minimal lasting effects.
We are working with the same rescue Heidi’s Legacy, and fostering another GSD.”
Way to go, Haus, definitely a “rescue dog” in every meaning of the word!